Resident-directed care is the trend inside skilled nursing communities, and Jennifer Popp is looking to amplify that as she takes over as administrator at Eunice Smith Home.
ESH, managed by Bethesda Health Group and owned by BJC HealthCare, welcomed Popp in late January as she succeeded Mark Jeffries as administrator. Jeffries has moved to another Bethesda community in St. Louis while Popp inherits an excellent staff at ESH, 1251 College Ave. on the Alton Memorial Hospital campus.
“The staff here has a ‘we can do it’ attitude, and I love to be a part of that,” Popp says. “We want to maintain the excellent care and the home-like feeling. Resident-directed care is a very important component. We want to work with the resident and families to set them up for services back in their community.”
While nursing homes like Eunice Smith Home were once thought of almost as a last stop for residents, rehabilitation is now a huge part of the experience.
“Rehab is my baby,” Popp said. “It’s very satisfying to play a part in helping a resident get back home and be able to live on their own.”
Popp earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Southeast Missouri State in 2003 and began as a social worker at Bethesda Dilworth in St. Louis later that year. She moved to Bethesda Southgate as coordinator of Social Services in 2006, then earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2007. She eventually became assistant administrator at Bethesda Southgate before coming to Alton.
“My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while I was in high school, so that played a part of me choosing this path,” said Popp, who is married and has a 4-year-old son. “I was probably like a lot of college students in that I wanted to change the world. This way I’m changing it one person at a time. There is a lot of potential in this field.”