At Bethlen Communities, people of all ages have been living, working and caring for one another for almost 100 years. Caring for others is at the heart of Bethlen Communities. Starting as an orphanage at the Park Hotel on the hill overlooking Ligonier in 1921 and adding a home for care of the elderly in 1924, Bethlen has grown to the present continuing care retirement community with several branch campuses throughout Ligonier. Following is a chronologic overview of Bethlen’s story.
July 4, 1921: To provide for the many children left without means of support following the Smithton, Pennsylvania, Darr Coal Mine explosion, the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America (HRFA) opened an orphanage. Necessary expansion of the orphanage caused the HRFA to purchase the then Park Hotel near Ligonier for use as a home setting for the orphans and their caregivers. The orphanage was then named the Bethlen Home and the mountain where Bethlen is located became known as Moriah Mountain, meaning “Jehovah will see to it”. Over the next 14 years, 185 adjacent acres were also purchased to provide food and revenue for the orphanage.
July 4, 1924: To provide housing and care for the elderly who were previously caregivers for the orphans, the Bethlen Home for the elderly was established and dedicated.
November 29, 1928: A small German church, known as the Church in the Wilderness, was purchased and moved to Moriah Mountain. A school room was added on either side of the church and the structure was dedicated on this 1928 Thanksgiving Day. The church remains in use at Bethlen Communities.
August 31, 1941: The orphanage was moved to Fairfield Street in the Ligonier Borough with the purchase of the Brownfield House. A dormitory addition was built and dedicated. The orphanage remained open at this location until 1979 when the state began a more active role in taking responsibility for the care of dependent children.
1957-1975: The first nursing home offering care for 26 residents was constructed to provide a higher level of care for the elderly. With ever-increasing demand, a new wing housing an additional 80 residents was added to the nursing home in 1962 and still another wing was built in 1975.
1979-1989: Twenty Bethlen Retirement Cottages were built to accommodate independent living in a secure environment for adults age 62 or older. At the time, this form of independent yet protected living was innovative and provided a step toward establishing Bethlen’s continuing care community.
May 31, 2001: The Ligonier Gardens Personal Care and Retirement Center on Route 30 was purchased. The facility was modernized with the addition of an assisted-living level of care and based on medical need, fosters the highest level of independence possible for each resident.
June 28, 2005: The newly built Bethlen Home Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was opened as a completely modern nursing facility with multiple levels of care, an Alzheimer’s wing, and comprehensive in-patient rehabilitative services.
December 2007: Bethlen Communities became accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF accreditation is conferred upon organizations that can document comprehensive services and offer a person-centered lifestyle for each resident while maintaining a high standard for quality of care.
February 6, 2007: Bethlen added Home Health Services offering seniors in-home skilled nursing, therapy, medication management, wound and IV therapy, and other individualized care.
March 27, 2009: Hospice care was added to Bethlen’s Home Health Program. End of life in-home, resident, and hospital, hospice services aim to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient while affording emotional and spiritual support to the patient’s family.
February 1, 2010: The In-Home Companion Caregiver Program was initiated offering seniors assistance with activities of daily living such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, shopping aid, incontinence care, medication reminders, and companionship. These services allow seniors to “Age in Place” within the comfort of their own home.
November 13, 2012: Twenty-four additional independent living residences were dedicated. This more than tripled the size of Bethlen’s retirement community.
May 2014: The Graceful Aging Wellness Center was opened in a newly renovated portion of the old nursing home building. Focusing on the seven dimensions of wellness, the goal of the Graceful Aging Center is to increase active life expectancy, that is, a longer life span free of disability.