In 1969, Richard Nixon was sworn in as the 37th president. The Vietnam War was raging; Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The Beatles released the “Abbey Road” album featuring the iconic photo of the Fab Four crossing the street and the Woodstock festival brought huge crowds to a sleepy town in New York. The first ATM was installed in Rockville Centre, New York; the first episode of “Sesame Street” aired and Michael Symon, the popular Cleveland-area chef, was born.
It’s also the year that St. Augustine Manor nursing home accepted its first resident. The nursing home has grown into St. Augustine Health Ministries, a mission-driven, faith-based not-for-profit organization founded by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland.
During the past half-century, SAHM has grown to provide a continuum of health care and social service ministries. It’s a leader in serving senior adults and the chronically ill, with special attention to the poor and most vulnerable.
To mark the milestone, RetroMania, a celebration of SAHM’s first 50 years, took place Oct. 10 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland. About 300 people attended the “groove, grub and give” event. Many heeded the recommendation to dress in ’60s and ’70s attire, with plenty of tie-dye fashions, bell bottoms, peace signs, wild wigs, pastel glasses and other fashions of the era evident throughout the evening. The Shout! band provided live music from the ’60s and ’70s.
Stations bearing the name of hits from Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 of 1969 were located on the plaza and lower levels of the Rock Hall. After registering, guests could take the escalator downstairs to nosh on small plates of various foods from popular area eateries, grab a beverage and play some games. There also were photo opportunities.
Emcee for the evening was Joe Cronauer, afternoon host on 95.5 The Fish and a WKYC TV3 reporter. Rick Meserini, SAHM president/CEO, welcomed guests, who saw a short video about the work of SAHM.
Money raised from RetroMania will help SAHM pay for client services not fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.
“About 1,000 people per day are touched by the continuum of healing, “ Meserini said. “It is our mission of Christ to perform this ministry.” He said care is taken to ensure that all individuals cared for by SAHM have their needs met with dignity, comfort and love. Special attention is paid to the poor and most vulnerable, he added. Meserini also acknowledged his predecessor, Patrick Gareau, who led SAHM for 17 years before being named as head of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland.
Other members of the SAHM administration include Frank Huba, CFO; Anita Garrasch, administrator; Dana Carns, advancement – who also oversaw RetroMania; Brigid Nolan, assisted living; Alicia Mazzi, human resources; Kristin Graham, Holy Family Home Health Care & Hospice; and Matt Cuba, Emerald Village Senior Living.
The board of directors includes Mark Seryak, chair; Damon Taseff, vice chair; Linda Sheehan, secretary and Cullen Hanlon, treasurer, SAHM officers; Edward Hack, chair; Robert Pumphrey, vice chair and Karen McCarthy, secretary, St. Augustine Services Corp. officers. Board members are Bishop Nelson Perez, Gareau and Seryak. Trustees are Joseph Dailey, Theresa Dawson, Rosemary Eyerman, John Faulstich, Janet Gosche, Peter Jancar, Dr. Amelia Llerena, Karen McCarthy, Mark McGrievy, Joe Sciarrillo, Charles Slone and Marilyn Streeter. J. Thomas Hannon and Margaret Lynch are honorary trustees.
After the program, guests could dance and enjoy the music of Shout! while bidding on dozens of raffle baskets, participating in pop-up mini-raffles, vote for the Cleveland’s Best Bites winner, play games and stop by the groovy ’60s photo booth. There also was a poster of the “Abbey Road” photo with various levels of giving. When a donation was made, one of the SAHM residents’ photos would move across the road. The goal was to finance a resident so he or she could cross Abbey Road.
SAHM offers a comprehensive selection of services in both residential and community-based settings, including specialized programs for post-hospital rehabilitation, home care services, long-term care, hospice and more. There also are independent and assisted-living housing options for senior citizens, as well meals that are delivered to homebound seniors in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.
The ministries have evolved over the years to expand the SAHM continuum of care to meet the growing needs of a diverse patient population.
“We’ve expanded to meet the needs of the community,” Carns said. “We change as the community changes. But one thing remains the same — our mission, which is to provide loving, compassionate care for all, regardless of their ability to pay.”
In the early 1990s, SAHM was one of the first long-term care institutions in Ohio to create a dedicated unit for HIV patients. Staff members were specially trained to help AIDS patients who were dying and had no place to go. Thanks to medication advancements, the AIDS unit was disbanded, but AIDS patients still come in for short-term rehab, Carns noted.
In recent years, SAHM expanded into palliative and hospice care, acquiring Holy Family Cancer Home in Parma, which was Holy Family Home Health Care and Hospice. And last year, SAHM began accepting ventilator and bedside dialysis patients who have nowhere else to go. Hospitals can’t keep these patients over the long term.
“We were one of the first in the state to train our staff to do that, and now we have a unit for them,” Carns said.
They also opened an early-learning child-care center on its campus. Although at first it accepted only employees’ children, it now offers day care to children from throughout the community. The day care recently marked its 50th anniversary by inviting alumni back for a reunion.
One of the favorite activities for St. Augustine nursing home and assisted-living residents is the opportunity to visit Camp Cheerful each summer where they enjoy fresh air, fish, swim, interact with horses, play games and participate in arts and crafts. Donations defray much of the cost for this program, Carns said.
For more information on St. Augustine Health Ministries, click HERE.