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20 years of The Birches: 5 questions with Jim Curto

James K. Curto, CMDCP

James K. Curto, CMDCP

The Birches Assisted Living, sailor, jazz fan, LTHS, Denison, Kellogg NU grad, and a White Sox fan. The spark of an idea for the Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care began when I heard about this new “assisted living movement” back in the mid-90. I found and purchased the land in 1997, and we began construction a year later... I grew up in La Grange and am a proud graduate of Lyons Township High School. My wife, Mary, and I have lived in Western Springs since 1992. I spent much of my career in hospital management, after receiving training in that field at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

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1. Why did you start The Birches?

At that time in my life, I was in pursuit of new challenges. I was running a skilled nursing facility and had gone to a seminar about Assisted Living. At that time, standalone Assisted Living was a new concept and I thought it seemed like a great opportunity. There are lots of moving parts – it’s almost like a hotel, but with the clinical side to it. For the first few years it was a learning process, but we’ve gotten our footing over the last 20 years. And we’ve created a place that families trust and a place where seniors can live their best lives.

2. What are you most proud of about the last 20 years?

I am really proud of our longevity. Through the years, new assisted living options have opened in the area but we have remained solid – and that is due to the reputation we’ve built. We stay on the leading edge of technology, including our latest offering, passive call systems, that use motion detectors to track resident’s patterns and detect abnormalities to offer an added level of security. We also have a strong staff – some of whom have been with us since our doors opened – and lower than average turnover rates. We treat our residents like family and they know that they can count on our staff no matter what they need.

3. How is The Birches different from other assisted living communities?

We pride ourselves on being a “Mom and Pop” type organization. We only have one location, we have staff that have been with us for decades, and our associates and residents are like family. We only have one location and we don’t plan on having any more locations so we can make our sole focus our current and future clients. We also don’t have to answer to a parent organization, so we can make decisions that are in the best interest of our residents. We also have a convenient location that is located right in the community, which makes it so easy for families to stop in whenever they want.

4. What are your hopes for residents?

I want our residents to have the best life possible with the support and environment we provide. We meet them where they are at in life, offering opportunities for learning and choices to do as much or as little as they want.

5. What are your hopes for the next 20 years?

My hope is that we continue to serve our community and our elders the best way we can.