Dr. John Mast has served Masonic Village at Elizabethtown in various capacities for over 21 years. A geriatric specialist certified in geriatric and family medicine with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Dr. Mast was named medical director in 2020. He recently transitioned to hospice medical director, which is where you can find him when he’s not doing long-term care and rehabilitation.
“Since I started at Masonic Village, the facility and staff have done a fabulous job of providing quality end-of-life care that for many years was a service given to eligible residents regardless of their personal financial circumstances,” he said. “Today, we are able to provide everything that is included in the Medicare Hospice Benefit and get reimbursed for the high-quality work that we’ve been doing.”
Dr. Mast appreciates that hospice allows patients to experience end-of-life wishes, whether it be an airplane flight or attending a Phillies game. “They are helping dreams come true,” he said.
He would like to see hospice reach even more people and provide quality end-of-life care for more individuals at an earlier stage. Some individuals don’t enter hospice until they are very close to death.
“Hospice can always make a difference, no matter when it’s consulted, but the longer hospice has to help individuals, the more they can do,” he said.
Dr. Mast returned to his hometown of Lancaster in 1999 to look for a job after completing his medical residency at East Tennessee State University. He attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine at Indianapolis. Before that, he was enrolled in the pre-med program at Goshen College in Indiana. While there, he worked as a nurses aide at a long term care facility in Goshen. He really enjoyed the experience.
“I did the weekend night, 12-hour shift for a few years,” he said. “It helped solidify my thoughts that I really wanted to practice medicine and be a doctor, because I enjoy taking care of people. I’m here to serve the patients. They are not here to serve my requests and wishes. That’s how it works.”
Dr. Mast eventually joined the family medicine practice at Norlanco Medical Associates in Elizabethtown. There, he learned they needed someone to see patients at Masonic Village. He jumped on the opportunity. Today, he lives just 2.5 miles from campus, so he’s able to walk, jog or bike to work every day.
“I had no reservations,” he said about coming to Masonic Village. “With my experience in the nursing facility, I was happy to do it. When I arrived at Masonic Village (in 1999), I learned a lot as I was working. I really benefited from Dr. Kenneth Brubaker’s mentorship over the years. I also learned a lot from the fabulous nurses I worked with over the years. Taking care of complex patients really takes a partnership with the whole team.”
Over the years, as the need increased, Dr. Mast began spending more and more time at Masonic Village. Five years ago, an opportunity arose to leave his outpatient practice and work full-time at Masonic Village. He happily accepted the role.
“I made the jump from outpatient medicine to personal care, short-term nursing facility rehabilitation and long-term nursing work, and now hospice,” he said. “I still work as part of Lancaster General Health at Masonic Village. About three-quarters of my time is doing long-term care and rehabilitation, and the rest of my time with hospice. It’s a nice balance.”
Dr. Mast said he enjoys caring for what he calls the “unworried sick,” which is how he describes his patients at Masonic Village.
“Most adults worry about being sick, but they are actually quite healthy,” he said. “Nursing facility patients typically have multiple critical, potentially life-threatening illnesses that are all interacting with each other, but often they are not worried and are happy to be as healthy as possible.
“A lot of it is emotional and spiritual maturity. They have become self-actualized and had a chance to live their lives; they are not fearful of death. They’ve finished their life work and their life is at a point of reminiscence and reflection.”