Mulligan, Eileen

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: Noble Horizons
Date of Interview:
File No: 147 Cycle:
Summary: Noble Horizons history

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

This is Jean McMillen interviewing Miss Eileen Mulligan, Head Administrator of Noble Horizons at her office at Noble, 17 Cobble Road, Salisbury, Ct. The date is June 18th, 2012.

JPM:May I have your full name?

EM:Eileen Mary Mulligan

JPM:Your birth place?

EM:Bridgeport, Ct.

JPM:Your birth date, if you wish?

EM:October 5, 1947.

JPM:Your parents’ names?

EM:Edward and Margaret Mary Mulligan

JPM:Your education?

EM:Bachelors in Health Care Administration from Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Ct.

JPM:How did you come to this area?

EM:I came for employment to take the job that I am presently employed in, Administrator of Noble Horizons.

JPM:Who had the original vision of Noble Horizons? In other words who were the three people who started this?

EM:Tom Wagner was the attorney for Mrs. Noble & Mr. Noble when he was alive, and who helped to create the Noble charitable Trust. Secondly was Lowell Davis the President of Church Homes Inc. in Hartford where they had already built a village for elderly residents and third was Dave Jephson who was the architect of the project. He was a recent graduate of Rensselear outside of Albany and was given free rein to design something totally different than standard nursing homes and communities for the elderly. Together they created what is now known as the village concept for continuing care.

JPM: Did Tom Wagner and his wife come up with this idea after having seen the Church Homes?

EM:Yes, Fran was a member of the Congregational Church and very active in Church Women United and in the hierarchy of the Congregational Church as it were. She had traveled throughout Connecticut and had seen the Village in Hartford. She was familiar with it because of the Congregational Church and the ties that Church Homes had to the Congregational Church in the beginning. It was her idea to go and take a look at the Village and speak to people in Hartford about the possibility of building such a village here in Salisbury.

JPM:When you came here, how many staff and what was the size of the campus?


EM:We had 64 acres in the beginning: it has expanded to 104 acres over the years. We had 16 cottages; we had a Riga Residence which is the residential hotel which had 26 beds. They were just completing theWhitridge Nursing Wing which would add 30 nursing beds to the campus. Until that time they technically did not need an administrator, but once they added the nursing services the license required that there be a full time nursing home administrator on the premises. I happened to be at that time an intern at the Hartford facility. After a visit here and an interview I was asked if I would like the job.

JPM:And gratefully, you said yes.

EM:I did.

JPM:How many staff did you have at the beginning when you came?

EM:I think it was between 8 and 12, somewhere in that realm. We had a kitchen and that’s where most of the employees worked. We had an aide on duty 24 hours a day. We had a housekeeper, someone who answered the phone, and a maintenance person; so outside of the kitchen there were probably 5 employees.

JPM:Who was the first medical doctor?

EM:That was Dr. Henry Gallup.

JPM:You have had successions of…

EM:Yes, we have had several since then.

JPM:About how many employees do you have now?

EM:We have 155 employees now.

JPM:And you also have volunteers?

EM:Yes well over 100 and we have 75 members of the Auxiliary as well.

JPM:What does the Auxiliary do?

EM:They are primarily a fund raising arm of Noble Horizons that raises funds for special things that benefit the residents; large screen TVs or out trips, musical programs that are held here, patio furniture, things that the budget wouldn’t allow or that the state does not reimburse us for. They raise funds for that on an annual basis.

JPM:Briefly could you tell me a little bit about funding? At the beginning was it a bequest or was it…


EM:Well in the beginning the money from the Noble Trust went toward the acquisition of the property first, and then the building of the original 16 cottages, Riga Residence, and the community building; the community building being the kitchen, dining room and a large recreation area. The Noble Trust funded all of that. As time went on and they added the nursing wing, they went out and actually took a mortgage out in order to build the nursing wing because the Trust wasn’t sure they wanted to be involved with the nursing home business. I think the nursing home wing was built for about $600,000, and one large donation that went towards that came from Arnold Whitridge; therefore the building was named after his wife Jeanetta, in memory of his wife Jeanetta.

JPM:He also donated money for the chapel.

EM:He did in 1983; he gave us a gift of the money to built St. Luke’s Chapel, as his last gift to Noble Horizons. He was advancing in age and knew that what he wanted to do, he wanted to do before he died, and not after he died. So he very generously built our chapel.

JPM:When was Riga Residence built?

EM:That was the residential hotel at the time 1973. The cottages came on board in 1972, followed by the Riga Residence and the community building in 1973. Then the nursing wing opened in January of 1975, following that we built the Cobble to replace Riga Residence as the residential care home, the residential hotel which was built across the street. That was financed again by a mortgage, but this time the mortgage was taken by Bankers’ Trust who were the co-trustees of the Noble Charitable Trust. They took out the mortgage against the property of Noble Horizons, and then paid the mortgage back on a quarterly basis through the donations that they had been making to Noble. At the end of the 1980’s the final payment was made, and the entire complex was debt free.

JPM:Wonderful! What are some of the changes that have occurred over the 25 years that you have been here?

EM:The multiplication of the staff for one thing, and the diversity of the staff.

JPM:And more services?

EM:Absolutely more services, we also added the Wagner Building in 1994 which became our intermediate care facility. In a just a very few years we realized that there was a demand for short term rehab where people could come for a week or 2 weeks after surgery or after an illness and be rehabilitated and then go back to their own homes. That was a new service to us; we added outpatient therapy so we have a full area where people can come in from the community to get physical and occupational therapy. We have an extensive community outreach program for education, both college level courses and health related courses, these courses or seminars are directed at issues surrounding the elderly: fraud and abuse, Medicare and the changes with Social Security. We try to keep the community aware of all that is going on related to the elderly.

JPM:I know when we were talking before you said that Noble was very much of a trend setter. What are some of the things that you have done to start before anybody else got involved?


EM:Well, we brought pets on board very early on. We had a house dog for a number of years: it has expanded to birds and fish and cats on every unit. That has been an important part of life for both the employees and the staff.

JPM:You also do intergenerational activities with schools.

EN:We do actually with a number of schools in the area. The high school has a program where they place students with us for sort of on the job exposure to see if there is a career path that they might take later on. We also have an affiliation with Hotchkiss for their students to come and visit as well as Salisbury School. We also have an affiliation with Maplebrook for placement of their students as volunteers. We have a relationship with Salisbury Central, the local daycare center where the children come and do intergenerational programming with the residents. So we have children here almost all the time.

JPM:That’s so important because the children today don’t necessarily have intergenerational families.

EM:Grandparents, yes, families that’s right.

JPM:It’s wonderful for them to have the experience of being around older people, and it’s good for the older people to have the children around.

EM:Yes it is.

JPM:Children keep one young.

EM:Nothing pleases the residents more than to see a baby. A baby is just like gold. It gets passed from one to another.

JPM:That is wonderful because it makes Noble part of the community and an integral part of the community, and you are not behind a wall. It tended to be the case with nursing homes with which I am familiar 20 to 30 years ago.

EM:The more local involvement you have the better off the facility is, and the healthier the residents are from the mental health standpoint to continue those contacts.

JPM:Is there anything I haven’t covered that you would like to add to this interview?

EM:Well, we hope to continue in the future with an expansion of our independent living option. I feel very strongly that that is the way of the future. People are going to want to stay in their homes or in smaller spaces, rather than big homes. They will want services brought to them instead of coming to a facility for services. I think the more we can build into our community, for instance I’d love to have a pool. I think it would be a good addition to our therapy program, as well as a stimulant for again



intergenerational programming. The school could make use of it: they could bring the kids over. So that is one area I’d like to see expanded and definitely more independent living options.

JPM:Anything else that you would like to add? Or should we wait to the future to see what happens?

EM:That’s a good closing remark.

JPM:Thank you very much for the interview.

EM:You’re welcome.