Change in leadership at Cheshire’s Elim Park retirement home

Change in leadership at Cheshire’s Elim Park retirement home


CHESHIRE — Ron Dischinger’s retirement as Elim Park Baptist Home president early next month comes after a 40-year career with the home and its residents.

“You don’t appreciate the history and expertise of these people until you live and work with that generation of people who have contributed so much to society as a whole,” he said.

Brian Bedard, the incoming Elim Park president, will take over on Oct. 9.

Dischinger credits his predecessor, David MacNeill, with transitioning the 110-year-old organization from a nursing home to a retirement community. MacNeill lives at Elim Park with his wife.

Under Dischinger’s leadership, the home went from 40 independent-living apartments to more than 250, built a theater and massively expanded dining options for residents.

Despite the home’s name, Elim Park isn’t just for Baptists. Dischinger said it attracts residents of many denominations and branches of Christianity who value a “Christ-centered environment.”

Elim Park is affiliated with the Converge denomination, formerly called the Baptist General Conference. Although initially supported by churches in the denomination, the relationship has changed over the years.

“We have a very solid financial base now,” Dischinger said.

The home’s board of directors, comprised of members of regional churches, spent 15 months searching for Dischinger’s replacement.

“Brian was up against some very well-qualified candidates,” he said.

In addition to nursing home administration and other technical requirements for the job, leaders of the home were also looking for someone who would continue the spiritual components of Elim Park.

“You want somebody who knows intrinsically what your stated mission is,” Dischinger said.

Bedard is administrator at the Lutheran Home of Southbury and attends Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon which is affiliated with Converge. He heard about the job opening through a pastor and said the move felt “extremely right.”

At Elim Park, Bedard said will be able to use his nursing home experience and live out his faith.

“It’s phenomenal place to have a place of work that’s an extension of the church,” he said.

Bedard said the home has a “Christ-based mission” to care for patients and residents. That extends beyond senior leadership, he said, and results in high-quality care.

“It’s provided in a way that’s superior to most other offerings,” he said. “That’s the result of the entire community of workers being committed to the mission that’s uniquely different.”

Elim Park offers Sunday morning services, Bible studies, spiritual counseling and the service of four volunteer and one full-time chaplain. A new full-time chaplain, Dennis Sant, also begins on Oct. 9.

As a non-profit, Elim Park doesn’t pay property taxes in Cheshire. Dischinger said the home makes contributions to the town’s police and fire departments annually that have increased over the years. Those funds are often used to purchase new or specialized equipment. Outside Dischinger’s office hangs plaques from the police and fire departments in gratitude of these payments, which last year totaled $360,000.

Dischinger said Elim Park’s residents depend greatly on emergency services in the event of an accident. He said the Cheshire community has always been kind to the home.

Bedard, who lives in Hartland, plans to move to Cheshire after the graduation of one of his three daughters from high school. Bedard wants to become more integrated into the town community and hopes to continue Elim Park’s history of involvement.

“I think that’s exceptional,” Bedard said of the donations. “We’re part of the Cheshire community. It’s certainly my goal to do all I can to give back to the Cheshire community.”

After his retirement, Dischinger said he and his wife will likely return to the Midwest where they have family. He’ll work for a time as an accreditor for nursing homes and retirement communities.

Might he join his predecessor and return to Elim Park as a resident?

“Absolutely,” Dischinger said. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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