J Scott Judy is continuing his almost 15-year history with Masonic Homes Kentucky, Louisville, with a new role as CEO, but his connection to the profession, the organization, and the Masons, goes back much further.
“It’s personal to me on many fronts,” he told McKnight’s Senior Living.
Judy was announced as the successor to Gary Marsh in the CEO role on April 8. He had been Masonic’s chief operating officer and senior vice president for almost 15 years and joined Masonic in 2005 as senior vice president of development.
The organization provides independent living, assisted living, personal care, rehabilitation, memory care, skilled nursing and more on three campuses that it owns and operates in Louisville, Shelbyville and Taylor Mill in northern Kentucky. Masonic has approximately 800 employees and serves almost 1,000 residents.
“I’ve been around this business since I was nine years old,” Judy said. “My father [James] was the exec for the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities for 20 years. My mother [Nancy] and father were investors in some nursing homes throughout Kentucky.”
His ties to the Mason organization are even longer.
“I’m a fourth-generation Mason. My brother is, my father was, my grandfather and my great-grandfather all were Kentucky Masons,” Judy said. That brother, Adrian, by the way, is a former nursing home administrator who now oversees all IT at Masonic.
“And my great-grandfather was involved in the Homes in some way, although I have not been able to ascertain specifically what it was,” he continued. “Finding myself now being the steward with all my other co-workers, for an organization that has such a rich history, is humbling.”
Masonic Homes Kentucky, Judy explained, was founded in 1867, two years after the Civil War ended.
“Masons take an obligation to take care of our widows and our orphans,” he said. “Shortly after the Civil War, there were a lot of both.”
The Homes initially cared for those populations but over time moved into senior living, Judy said. Children, however, came back to the Louisville campus in 2011 in the form of what Judy believes is the only program that integrates a special needs day care with a typical day care. It serves the children of employees and others in the community, and older adults living on campus have many opportunities to interact with the children, he said.
Mason values also are expressed in Masonic Homes’ service to those in the middle market who want more than a rental unit and whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but not high enough to be able to afford some senior living communities, Judy said.
Masonic has an offering that guarantees life care for residents, who receive a 25% discount for a higher level of care. And they share many amenities — restaurants, a pool, workout areas and movie theaters — with traditional life care residents.
“When a contract terminates or at death, they or their estate gets back 50% of their original buy-in,” he said. “And those buy-ins are anywhere from $100,000 to $180,000.” Traditional life care residents at Masonic, Judy said, receive 90% of their buy-ins back.
“The results have exceeded our goals every year we’ve been offering it,” he said of the middle market program. “This is entering our third year, and I think we’ve converted 22.”
Masonic Homes Kentucky can accommodate all income levels, however, Judy said. “We have income-based housing, we have rentals and we have the middle income piece. …What Masonry is all about is that everyone is equal, regardless of their socioeconomic, race, religion and those kind of characteristics.”
Masonic is like many other providers, facing challenges related to staffing and the prospect of litigation, he said.
Especially when it comes to skilled nursing, Judy said, “It’s difficult to provide a service that nobody wants to have to use in the first place.”
Providers need to work together to change negative perceptions and stereotypes about nursing homes, he said, adding, “When you pause between ‘nursing’ and ‘home,’ it makes a lot of difference,” because home is emphasized. “That’s the perfect description of what we are,” he said.
One way Masonic has tried to address workforce challenges is by offering a scholarship program that employees can use to advance from a certified nursing assistant position to obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, Judy said.
“They bless us with their talents for a certain period of time because they’re going through school, and we provide them with continuing education,” he said.
The organization also has been using PayActiv, which enables workers to access pay they’ve earned but have not yet received in their paychecks, for a couple of years. “That’s been a huge, huge relief to many of our [employees],” Judy said. “In fact, many of them use it very frequently. So that’s helped us on the retention piece also.”
Before Masonic, Judy was director of development for Kosair Charities and executive vice president of Health Kentucky. He chaired the LeadingAge Kentucky Board of Directors. He also is secretary of Masonic Communities and Services Association’s Board of Directors.
New president, too
Along with Judy’s appointment, Masonic’s chief financial officer, Todd Lacy, has been promoted to president.
Lacy joined Masonic in September 2007 after directing the accounting and financial functions for E.P.I. Healthcare Corp., a multi-facility long-term care, hospital and rehabilitation business, for 10 years. He has more than 20 years of healthcare finance experience, including both for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare delivery systems.
“We have an exceptionally talented team with immeasurable passion and proven performance,” Lacy said. “I am incredibly excited to assume this role and for the future of the organization.”
That future, among other things, will include a renovation and expansion of the Shelbyville campus, which follows the opening last July of the Meadow Active Lifestyle Community in Louisville.
“That’s 122 independent living life care apartments,” Judy said of the Meadow project, adding that Masonic owns and operates the only two life care communities in Kentucky, both on the Louisville campus.
Also new is the addition of 48 assisted living units that came with the opening of Grove Pointe Assisted Living Community in Louisville in August.
“We’ve done about $300 million worth of construction over the last 10 years,” Judy said.