Senior Living Goes Upscale at Briarfield Place

BOARDMAN, Ohio – In the courtyards of Briarfield Place sit putting greens with bright artificial turf.

They are among the many special touches that give the new rehabilitation and senior living facility an atmosphere that is more typical of a hotel than a senior living center.

The $12.7 million building opened in July, making it the ninth and newest property in the Briarfield family.

Located at 8400 Market St., across from St. Elizabeth-Boardman Hospital, it has 58 private rooms, common areas and a dining room with soaring window walls, and a staff of about 50 nursing and rehabilitation professionals.

The private dining room that is available to dine with visiting family members.

Briarfield Place also has a hair salon, restaurant-style dining – residents order from a menu – and a private dining room that residents can use when their family visits.

Ed and Diane Reese are the founders of Briarfield and serve as CEO and president, respectively.

“As you walk through, you see it’s more of a hotel feel,” Diane says. “People are just blown away by the interior. We have the best of both worlds because we also have an awesome staff.”

The tenets and traits of the hospitality field have taken over the senior care-rehab facility industry, Ed notes.

The spacious rooms, which are all single occupancy, each have a bay window with a bench seat nestled in below it.

“The rooms were designed for residents,” Ed says. “If they want to socialize, they can do so all the time. If not, they’ll be comfortable in their rooms.”

Long-term patients can take advantage of a full slate of daily activities that range from arts and crafts, coffee gatherings, chair yoga and group games, to live entertainment, the occasional happy hour, and trips to watch the Youngstown Phantoms hockey team and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers baseball team.

“We have an activity staff and we keep them active and involved,” Diane says. “Sometimes they say they are too busy!”

Briarfield has a loge box at the Scrappers stadium and began taking residents to hockey games this year.

“It’s been so successful,” Ed says. “They love hockey games.”

Briarfield Place’s hallways are painted in warm colors and are carpeted, with windows and plush chairs arranged at intervals in case residents or guests want to sit and talk.

The fact that the building is across the street from a hospital is also important to the family of long-term residents. “[Family members] can see the hospital sign from our front door,” Ed says. “It makes them feel more at ease. If there’s an issue with a loved one, we can go right across the street.”

The new Briarfield Place has already housed 160 short- and long-term patients since it opened, Ed says, adding that most have been there for rehab stints.

On a recent tour of the building, a physical therapist was working with a patient in the rehab gym. Some long-term residents were getting together for a chat, and others were working on an art project.

The building still hasn’t reached full capacity. Employment stands at about 50 but will reach 70 when all three housing units are filled.

Finding qualified help has posed challenges but no more than for any other employer, Diane says. “We have to find caring, compassionate people in this field,” she says. “We’re looking for that special person.”

Briarfield already had plenty of facilities in the Youngstown area, including Briarfield Manor and Briarfield at Ashley Circle in Austintown; The Inn at Ironwood in Canfield; The Inn at Walker Mill in Boardman; The Inn at Christine Valley in Cornersburg; The Inn at Glenellen and The Villas at Glenellen in North Lima; and The Inn at Poland Way in Poland.

Briarfield Place was added to the list for several reasons, including to meet client preferences and for better infection control.

“We have two facilities in Austintown, and they had double occupancy rooms,” Ed says. “We added 58 private rooms [to our network]. Now, at the [Austintown facilities], the majority of rooms are also private.”

Diane points out that not only are single-occupancy rooms preferred by clients and families, but they had become necessary for controlling the pandemic and other potential infections.

Briarfield Place and the other senior living centers owned by the company have space for more residents.

“I can’t say there is a shortage of rooms [in the area],” Ed says, noting that Briarfield is noticing an influx of patients from Columbiana County.

Despite the supply chain problems that have slowed progress on construction sites across the country for the past year, Briarfield Place encountered no problems when it was being built.

“We were lucky,” Ed says. “We had our [materials] ordered in time,” before the shortages started.

Ed and Diane Reese have been in the senior living/rehabilitation business for 40 years. The couple started together as nurse’s aides.

“The families of the Mahoning Valley have let us take care of their family members for all these years,” Ed says. “We’re now in the third generation of employees. We have the daughters of employees working for us now.”

The Reeses say they have had a great staff that has stuck with them through waves of buyouts and mergers in the industry.

“There are not too many mom-and-pop companies around anymore,” Ed says, “and we’re glad to be one of them.”

Pictured: Diane and Ed Reese, owners of the Briarfield senior living and rehabilitation chain, stand by the fireplace in the great room of their new Briarfield Place building at 8400 Market St. in Boardman.