Michelle Feller finds it difficult to leave work in the new Center for Advanced Memory Care at ArchCare at Ferncliff Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, which was blessed by Cardinal Dolan March 30.
The 37-bed unit in Rhinebeck, which opened in January, cost $6.6 million, with funds coming from the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program, Catholic Health Care Foundation and Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.
“I love it,” Ms. Feller, who has worked at Ferncliff for 35 years and is the unit program manager, told CNY. “This has been a dream for me in this time of my life. I was the director of recreation for about 22 years, so having something based on recreation and getting the residents involved is a dream come true. It’s so rewarding. I don't like to go home at night.”
There were 27 residents in the new unit on the day of the blessing.
“Everybody is getting to know the residents on a one-to-one basis and the residents themselves are getting to know each other,” Ms. Feller said. “They’ve really formed a community in there. It’s such a family environment.
“The residents help us set the tables. They help us clean the tables. They water the plants. When I bring tours in, they’ll speak to the family members. That’s what we want, we want everyone to have a purposeful role, really give them the most ability to be as independent as possible.”
Cardinal Dolan, in his homily at Mass, praised the work being done by ArchCare and the staff at Ferncliff.
“When I visit ArchCare, I’m just thinking Jesus is still alive in His Church, He’s still working in His Church,” he said. “It was interesting this morning where we had in our first reading, did you notice, we had a prophecy. The prophet Isaiah was telling what it’d be like when the Messiah comes, when Christ comes. He’ll say the sick will be healed, the elders will be cared for and those who are discouraged will be lifted up and those who die will be given eternal life.
“That prophecy is fulfilled here. That prophecy is fulfilled with the good work ArchCare does.”
Cardinal Dolan said there are times when people are tempted to say Jesus has forgotten them, but Isaiah reminds everyone that this is not the case.
“God always remembers us,” the cardinal said. “He always cares for us. He always loves us.”
Following Mass, a ceremony took place in the new unit with prayer, speeches, and presentation of certificates. Cardinal Dolan then blessed the unit and a ribbon-cutting took place. Certificates were presented to ArchCare by State Sen. Sue Serino, Dutchess County Comptroller Robin Lois and two staff members of Rep. Antonio Delgado.
Cardinal Dolan toured the unit, and residents and staffers presented him with a gift and sang “Amazing Grace.”
“Listening to them sing Amazing Grace to His Eminence was probably the special moment of the day,” said Scott LaRue, president and CEO of ArchCare.
Michael Deyo, executive director of ArchCare at Ferncliff, said the nursing home has 247 residents and expects all 37 beds in the new unit to be filled by the end of June.
“Scott and the archdiocese were committed to make sure the services were beyond the New York City region to try and meet an unmet need in the Hudson Valley,” he said. “Scott had the confidence in the team here that we could execute the plan.”
There are 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2022, and it’ll cost $321 billion for treatment this year, a number projected to hit about $1 trillion in 2050.
LaRue said the new unit in Rhinebeck is just the start for ArchCare to address Alzheimer’s disease throughout the archdiocese.
“I’m confident we will be creating similar programs in all of the other ArchCare nursing homes in the archdiocese,” he said. “The percentage of baby boomers that are retiring and are going to be in need of dementia services is exploding and there is a lack of services in the community for them.
“So this is a need that needs to be met and we’re glad to fill it through the work of the Church.”