St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care Center (SEADCC) became a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word San Antonio, in December 2018. At a beautiful ceremony attended by all the CCVIs and the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, Missouri, Sr. Janice Bader, CPPS General Superior, entrusted the ministry to Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI Congregational Leader.
This day was joyful for both Congregations. But for the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, the joy was understandably tempered by the wistful realization that transferring the ministry was the best way to ensure its on-going viability.
Almost two years since this historic transition, many of our Sisters, Associates, and Collaborators have expressed interest in knowing more about the ministry. This article is an attempt to respond to this interest and invite us to embrace it fully as another profound expression of our CCVI charism.
A BRIEF HISTORY
St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care Center was founded by Sr. John Antonio, CPPS, in 1981. Sister is a legend in St. Louis. For nearly forty years, she shepherded her dream of a safe place where clients and families could find excellent care, warm companionship, and spiritual growth. Everyone in the industry knows and respects “Sr. John”.
The CCVI decision to accept the transfer of SEADCC followed a year-long process of discernment. A Task Force of knowledgeable professionals, led by Mike Fitzgerald of Incarnate Word Foundation, conducted a study of every aspect of the ministry, ensuring that the change was in the best interests of all parties.
“It was an amazing experience to review the operations and mission of St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care and witness the compassion and pride of the employees,” Mike explained. “This agency started with two participants and now serves close to 200 adults very day.” That fact alone speaks wonders for the need of such services.
Shortly following the transition, the Board of SEADCC hired Dr. Dorothea Rogers as its Executive Director. “Dr. D.”, as she is affectionately known, is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator with a bright smile and open heart. She wisely continued Sr. John’s “open-door policy so that participants, families, and staff . . . are able to communicate openly” about any issue that concerns them. This openness contributed to the success of the transition which proved to be understandably difficult for many long-term participants in the SEADCC community.
The SEADCC Board of Trustees, strong advocates for the ministry, was expanded to include CCVI representation. Judy Trevino took a leadership role in integrating SEADCC into the Ministry Council and the CCVI family.
WHAT EXACTLY IS “ADULT DAY CARE”?
In light of the great gift of a thriving new ministry, we as CCVIs are called to learn more about SEADCC in order to fully realize its promise and our responsibility to steward and develop it as faithfully as we have each of our other ministries throughout the last 150 years.
For some of us, that learning could be as basic as having an accurate definition of what the ministry entails. Just as mothers and fathers entrust their pre-school age children to day care in order to work to earn a living for their families, care givers of adults with special needs require a place where they can entrust their loved ones while they work and also find rest from the rigors of caring for someone 24 hours a day.
Adult Day Care is a structured, comprehensive program that provides a variety of health and social support services to meet the needs of functionally impaired individuals. It offers individuals a chance to get out of the house, to share experiences with other people, and benefit from an individualized care plan designed to improve or at least stabilize their functioning at home. (Quote from the ministry website: seadcc.org)
St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care Center does all of that. It is also unique because it is one of the few adult day care facilities in St. Louis providing care for clients suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. Truly this ministry responds to the needs of the most vulnerable.
An ST. LOUIS MINISTRY
Like its sister ministries, Incarnate Word Academy and Incarnate Word Foundation, St. Elizabeth Adult Day Care Center responds to the urgent call to racial equity in the St. Louis area. As the region struggles with its tragic history of segregation, SEADCC leadership and Board are diverse, its headquarters are located in one of the poorer, predominantly African-American communities, and the clientele reflect a strong understanding of and commitment to the richness of diversity.
The Ministry is courageously weathering the COVID-19 Pandemic. Dr. D’s credentials gave her access to all early information regarding emergency preparedness, pandemic policies, and new operational guidelines. Incarnate Word Foundation was able to provide protective equipment used to disinfect vans and restrooms. Policies and guidelines were expanded and shared with each SEADCC facility. Staff was trained, and families continued to be updated by weekly calls.
Unfortunately, the facilities needed to close in Mid-March because of low census. Amazingly, all staff members were continued on the payroll. A short time into the pandemic, SEADCC received PPE funding and were blessed to re-open all centers. The census continues to grow as families return to work. While the ministry lost some participants and staff due to fear and death, a ministry representative continues to check on impacted families, making sure they are well.
FEELING AT HOME WITH SEADCC
A visit to any one of the seven SEADCC locations in and around the St. Louis area, reveals a bright and welcoming environment, often alive with the sound of birds chirping, music playing, and happy caregivers responding to every need of the clients. In addition to the required therapies, there are games to be played, movies to enjoy, and birthdays to celebrate. There are chatter and laughter, and deep caring, expanding the minds and hearts of all present.
Dr. D. commented recently on the family environment.
“We celebrate birthdays and we send families sympathy cards when a loved one has passed. I love our compassion and or ability to reach the community. As a result, we have had excellent feedback in both Family and Participant Surveys.”
Like most unexpected and precious gifts, our appreciation grows with time. May we all make the time to reflect on the gift, the generosity of the giver, and the opportunity laid open before us.