HEALTH AND HOUSING A THREE-PART SERIES
* Part One: Rural poor make a home in California's grape growing desert.
* Part Two: Catholic hospitals focus resources on housing nearby elderly.
* Part Three: Rural elderly housing and inner city health promotion signal two routes to healthier places to live.
"My Dad is 79 and lives independently. I can't get him to move closer to me," said Mark Tozzio. "He may be sick some day and not able to care for himself, but he is not going to change until he absolutely has to--and that's one of the big challenges we face in health care."
Tozzio, senior vice president for marketing and business development at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., mentioned his father to illustrate the problems being tackled by Catholic hospitals' concerned and concerted approach to housing for the elderly. St. John's is currently constructing a 66-unit apartment building on land donated by the hospital.
Tozzio and Emily Amerman tackled the topic of low-income housing for seniors at this summer's Catholic Health Assembly. In South Philadelphia, Emily Amerman is executive director at St. Agnes Medical Center's Living Independently for Eiders (LIFE).
The 115-year-old St. Agnes Medical Center, operated by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, is a 153-bed acute care teaching hospital. It is "very much a community hospital," Amerman said. "A third of the employees live in …