After months of separation due to COVID-19, families were once again reunited in person at AHRC’s residences on Friday, June 19 — the first day New York State allowed visitation at group home residences since March 18. Family members’ letters, phone calls and social media messages led to NYS publishing initial visitation guidelines for certified residences for children and adults with I/DD under the auspices of OPWDD.
“We have been working with our colleagues in implementing these initial guidelines and expect that they will likely grow and evolve as we continue to receive guidance from OPWDD and other regulatory agencies,” said Stanfort Perry, executive director of AHRC Nassau. To view the guidelines and see Perry’s full letter, continue reading here.
Below is a special letter of what a first visit meant to one family, as well as inspiring snapshots from families across our community.
A Letter From Patricia Leahy
Good Afternoon Mr. Perry,
My sister, Colleen Leahy, resides at Hicks Place in Baldwin. I am writing to you this afternoon to express to you my (and my family’s) deepest gratitude to the entire Hicks Place staff, to the house manager Moracia Ridge, and to the supervisor Roshni John.
After a very long three months of being apart, I was able to see my sister, Colleen, for the first time yesterday. I realize that this day may not have been possible had it not been for the care given to Colleen by the AHRC staff at Hicks Place. They truly are my heroes and I’m sure if Colleen could tell you — she would say the same.
Colleen is very close with my family and me. Colleen had been used to weekly home visits since she moved into an AHRC residence many years ago. As you can imagine, not being able to see her family was very difficult (for both Colleen and my family). Changes in routine are extremely difficult for Colleen. It was the first time in her life that she was separated from us for any extended period of time. Colleen also missed her day program very much.
These difficulties were significantly compounded when Colleen contracted COVID-19 in late March. Anyone who knows Colleen knows that her biggest fears in life are hospitals and ambulances. The fact that Colleen was able to be cared for in her home by familiar staff and in a familiar environment, was, in my opinion, a very big piece of her recovery. I believe every single staff member at Hicks Place contributed to Colleen’s recovery — and for whatever part they took in her recovery I appreciate them more than they may ever know.
Colleen’s recovery from COVID-19 was not easy. I have been told that, in particular, Marie Bourguignon and JaQuana Hester who were assigned to Colleen during her illness, did a particularly exceptional job caring for Colleen — and I would like to recognize them for that. I realize the sacrifices they made and the personal risks that they took to care for Colleen at that time. That will never be forgotten. Although I was not able to see Colleen during that time, I was able to speak with Marie or JaQuana on a daily basis for updates on Colleen’s well-being. They gave Colleen the TLC that I was not able to give to her when she needed it most. In addition, by answering my every question, and giving me frequent updates, the house nurse, Donna Guccione demonstrated extreme patience and compassion at such a frightening time. Her concern for Colleen was genuine — and that meant so very much to me.
Thank you to each and every one of Colleen’s angels. I am forever grateful.