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United Helpers changes names, mission to meet new challenges

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OGDENSBURG — United Helpers has come a long way in its 114-year history.

In 1898 twelve women each donated $100 to establish an orphanage in Ogdensburg, but from that initial $1,200 investment a company with a $43 million 2011 operating budget and 950 employees spread across St. Lawrence County.

“We’re all over the county, we have senior housing complexes in Lousiville and Hermon and Russell and Gouverneur, Morristown,” said Cinnamon Alberto, company spokeswoman. “We have an exciting history. I love talking about it because it seems like so much has evolved. We’ve moved with some serious speed.”

United Helpers has become a household name in the north country, but that name and the diversity of different services and programs it is attached to has become confusing, said CEO Steve Knight.

“We’re changing it so it is easier to understand,” he said. “Previously, everything we did was called ‘United Helpers something,’ like United Helpers Canton or United Helpers Care. We reorganized our company — United Helpers is the parent, and all of our organizations have a name that is easy to remember and identify.”

The United Helpers Management company will keep its name, said Mr. Knight, but other operations will have their names changed.

“We think United Helpers is the ‘Good Housekeeping seal of approval,’” he said. “People recognize the name and the work we do throughout St. Lawrence County.”

Readers may notice that The United Helpers Nursing Home in Ogdensburg is now called RiverLedge, and includes outpatient speech, occupational and physical therapy services; respite; subacute rehabilitation; and RiverLedge Residence, a 24-hour staffed adult residence.

“It is a consolidation and realignment of campuses from nursing homes,” said Mr. Knight. “We now have one administrator overseeing multiple service lines, it is more efficient that way.”

In a similar change, United Helpers Canton is now Maplewood, which includes Maplewood Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center; Maplewood Assisted Living Program; outpatient speech, occupational and physical therapy services; subacute rehabilitation; and home health services as well as the Canton Child Day Care Center.

“People were under the impression that these campuses were just nursing homes,” said Mr. Knight. “At Riverledge, for example, we do sub-acute rehabilitation, it is the largest assisted-living facility north of Syracuse, outpatient services, a skilled nursing unit — it is a lot more than just a nursing home.”

Mr. Knight said the rebranding process started in Canton with the company’s independent retirement community, Partridge Knoll.

United Helpers Care Inc. is now known as Mosaic, said Mr. Knight.

“Mosaic provides services to people with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues,” said Mr. Knight. “It involves small homes, day rehabilitation, case management, apartment programs, a community treatment team that his headed up by a psychiatrist.”

Mosaic also provides 10 community residences throughout St. Lawrence County.

Mr. Knight said the changes were inspired by the Affordable Care Act, the federal health legislation sometimes referred to as Obamacare.

“There was an emphasis on better care, better health and lower cost through improvement,” said Mr. Knight. “The Obama administration was clear that this would happen through partnerships, eliminating layers of waste, and that some organizations would go away. We’re changing our mission statement to reflect the new reality.”

The United Helpers mission is now ‘To serve our community and help those in need.’ The company’s previous mission statement was too limited, said Mr. Knight, but the change still reflects its founding ethic.

“It had gotten very specific, I can’t even remember what it was but it was a paragraph in length and very focused on health care,” he said. “Throughout the company’s history it has always stepped up when there was a need in the community - whether it be in caring for orphaned children, skilled nursing care, care for the developmentally disabled, retirement living or rehabilitation, we adapted to fill those roles. Our new mission reflects a need for us to adapt beyond health care.”

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