During the 1960s, Dr. Mack R. Douglas — a minister from Margate, Florida — gathered a few friends together to discuss his vision for developing a local retirement community for senior citizens. His idea involved the construction of a group of cottages, which would be leased to an elder individual or a couple, for the balance of their lives. In September of 1967, the concept came to life, in Pompano Beach, as Baptist Village. Designated as a not-for-profit organization, Dr. Douglas’s mission was to deliver services, at Baptist Village, because he saw a need for folks who tired of caring for their homes and wished for the security of life care.
The campus flourished, over the next fifty years, and the leaders eventually changed the name to John Knox Village. Today, John Knox Village is home to approximately 1,000 residents and is considered to be the country’s premier life care community. The lush, gated, smoke-free, and pet-friendly seventy-acre campus features 200 villas, four apartment buildings, a skilled nursing facility, Green House model of memory care residence, hospice care, emergency response teams, and emergency monitoring systems. This full-service community is also home to a fitness center, an auditorium, a chapel with weekly religious services, a gift store, eight libraries, a bank, a pharmacy, card rooms, two lakes, a heated swimming pool with a Jacuzzi, nearly 200 on-site activities, two restaurants that serve approximately three thousand meals, per day, and transportation services to outlying businesses, shopping malls, and cultural venues. In short John Knox Village — or JKV as it is affectionately referred to — has become the “city behind the hedge.”
Presently, JKV’s day-to-day operations are led by President and CEO Gerry Stryker. A veteran of the healthcare industry, Stryker is an affable, charismatic, and inclusive leader, whose goal is to disrupt traditional views on elderhood and traditional elder care. Stryker says that he is “one hundred percent committed to delivering a purposeful way of living for our residents, that also encompasses our neighbors.” His strategy, he continues “is predicated on the ideal of creating a culture of trust to deconstruct the prevailing trend of doing for the elder instead of encouraging them to engage.”
In celebration of JKV’s fiftieth anniversary, Stryker is overseeing phase one of a $50 million campus renovation project, while he simultaneously lays the foundation for the Village’s ten-year plan. Stryker’s vision, for the future of elderhood, includes creating an all-encompassing, multi-generational new urbanism that intertwines JKV, its inhabitants, and the outlying community.
Stryker’s other goals include, one day, providing on-site housing for staff and their families; collaborating with Pompano Beach city leadership to gentrify the surrounding public property, on Dixie Highway, from McNabb Road to Sample Road; and developing additional housing and collaborative life skill mentoring programs, for young adults, led by JKV residents.
His success has been both remarkable and incontrovertible. JKV was awarded a five-star rating from Medicare.gov; U.S. News & World Report ranked their 194-bed skilled nursing facility as a Top Performer; and efforts are being made for Forbes’ inclusion of JKV on their list of the Best Places to Work in the Aging Services Category. Touring the facility, it is easy to see why JKV has established itself as an industry leader.
The 650 employees, who work under Stryker, have emulated his leadership qualities, and the sta demonstrates both a collaborative and a caring attitude towards residents. Each staffer embraces the philosophy that true quality care can only be provided when one commits to the tenets of community, independence, and possibility.
At John Knox Village, they debunk and dismiss a model of dependency, and institutional medical care, which often includes a high degree of uncertainty for residents and an even higher price tag. The cost of elder care is staggering, especially when you consider that the average stay, of a JKV resident, is nine years and nine months. For example, according to the American Association of Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), the average national cost, for a year of care in a nursing home, is $87,000.00. Ten or more states report that their average annual cost, for nursing home care, is in excess of $100,000.00, per patient.
According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, 2017 marked the first time that total annual payments — related to caring for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias — surpassed a quarter of a trillion dollars. The group also reported that in 2017, nearly 115,000 — or eighteen percent — of Florida residents, aged sixty-five or older, were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other memory disorders.
The John Knox Village life care model is more fiscally stable, and cost-effective, because it organically provides a predictable level of healthcare expenses — even
as situations change — and thereby allows residents to avoid the frequently devastating consequences of astronomical out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
When a new JKV resident joins the community, they begin their journey by entering into a life care contract. This involves the payment of a one-time entrance fee. New residents then work with the design center, to select materials that will be used to personalize the décor of their one- or two-bedroom villa or apartment, which secures the life care contract for a set monthly fee. There is a monthly fee, which covers all of their day-to-day and healthcare needs for life. The only time a resident’s monthly fee increases, is for meals, and this only occurs when the individual moves to a higher level of care.
There are no time or financial limits, on the long-term care benefits that residents receive, regardless of the level of care they require. While most of the residents are fully independent, when they arrive, over time they may need access to the skilled nursing center or require relocation to an assisted living residence. Simply put, their life contract is their fiscal safety net that provides them with an unparalleled community, geared to a wide range of needs for senior living, and, more importantly, with peace of mind as they age.
Stryker and his team continue to upend the traditional nursing home model, by being leading advocates of the Green House Project®, which is built around the Eden Alternative. The Eden Alternative was founded by geriatric specialist Dr. Bill Thomas, and his wife, Judith Meyers-Thomas. They created a principle-centered philosophy, for an elder care model, that is based on the core belief that aging should be a continual process of development and growth rather than a period of decline.
In 2017, JKV hosted the 10th Annual Green House Project® Meeting in Fort Lauderdale. Thousands of people, from over nine countries, attended the event. Central to the agenda was a site visit to The Woodlands of John Knox Village. This $35 million Green House modeled rehab, and skilled nursing facility, was built at the request of the residents, and is the crown jewel of the JKV complex. The award-winning, six-story design features two homes, per floor, each with twelve private suites; a European-style spa with a full-service salon; and the Bistro Café.
Mr. Stryker believes that life gets better with age and to that end he states, “I intend to spend the rest of my professional career creating a purpose-driven neighborhood. After that, I will enjoy my elderhood at JKV, with the many friends I have made on my journey”.
John Knox Village is located at 651 SW
6th Street in Pompano Beach, Florida. To
learn more about John Knox Village please
log onto www.JohnKnoxVillage.com or