A Family Commitment–Harrison Senior Living

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Entering a Harrison Senior Living facility brings an immediate feeling of warmth and comfort. The staff, many of whom have been with the company for decades, greet each resident and family member by name. Down the hall, brightly lit foyers are filled with residents gathering for a jazz concert, while other residents sit down to enjoy a meal in our restaurant style dining room. It is this quality of care and attention to detail that serves as a reflection of the standards set by founders Mrs. Katherine Harrison and Dr. James Harrison, over 40 years ago.

In 1967, the Harrisons purchased a 17 acre farm in Christiana, Pennsylvania. At the time, Dr. Harrison was working as a superintendent of schools while Mrs. Harrison was employed as a nurse. The purchase was meant to be an investment, but in the back of both of their minds they knew that this would be an excellent location for a skilled nursing facility. Within five short years, they decided that there would be nothing better than going into business together and on July 1, 1972, Harrison House Christiana, PA opened its doors with 16 available beds.

Those 16 beds quickly filled and the Harrisons brought back the architect to expand the facility to 53 beds. When those beds filled, they immediately expanded the property to 139 beds, which is the capacity of the home today.

Mrs. Harrison had attended elementary and high school in Snow Hill, Maryland and graduated with her degree in nursing from Peninsula General Hospital School of Nursing, in Salisbury, Maryland. So when she saw the success of the nursing facility in Christiana, she wanted to expand the business to Snow Hill, Maryland. The land was purchased, and in 1977, Harrison House Snow Hill opened.

Dr. James Harrison (right) and his wife opened the first Harrison House in 1972. Today, Harrison Saunders (left), a grandson of Dr. Harrison and the Corporate Properties Director, remains commited to providing excellent care.

Dr. James Harrison (right) and his wife opened the first Harrison House in 1972. Today, Harrison Saunders (left), a grandson of Dr. Harrison and the Corporate Properties Director, remains commited to providing excellent care.

Harrison House Snow Hill quickly gained a reputation for providing the highest level of care possible. It was because of this reputation that the former Mayor of Georgetown, Delaware and the general contractor of the Snow Hill facility approached the Harrisons and requested that they open a facility in their community.

Over the next five years the company opened locations in Georgetown, Delaware, Chester County, PA and acquired the John B. Parsons Home, an assisted living facility in Salisbury, Maryland. All together the facilities house 495 beds.

With three generations’ involvement, Dr. Harrison still reports to the corporate office every day. He attributes the success of the business to his family’s dedication to providing excellent care. He says, “Mrs. Harrison and I worked together as a team. We visited the facilities together. Mrs. Harrison personally supervised the nursing care and internal operations, while I concentrated on the physical plant.” He goes on to state that care needs to be the emphasis. “You want a pleasant environment, but you want excellent nursing care. You need to ensure that there is good food, cleanliness, and activities.”

The feeling of family commitment can be felt by the residents. Ms. Shirley Galbary, whose parents were residents of Harrison House Chester County, and where Ms. Galbary currently resides says, “Everywhere else, it’s a business. Here you feel like you’re part of a family group.”

To create a warm, nurturing environment, Harrison Senior Living has excelled at providing amenities that make guests feel they are in the comfort of their own home and surrounded by friends. Happy hours on Fridays provide residents an opportunity to socialize, while live music, field trips, speakers, and movies enhance their day to day lives.

Harrison Saunders, a grandson of Dr. Harrison and the Corporate Properties Director, appreciates working in the family business. He says, “not only do I enjoy spending time with my grandfather and learning from him, but I get to ensure that the values and standards that were instilled by my grandparents are maintained in the future.”

Published: November 2013

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