San Simeon by the Sound wins national award

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | San Simeon by the Sound Adult Day Care recreation supervisor Renee Genova assists residents during a game of badminton on Monday morning.

One year after San Simeon by the Sound Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation opened an adult day care program, it was among Platinum Award winners in a national competition sponsored by Dorland Health’s Case In Point magazine.

San Simeon administrator Priscilla DeMasi was at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in May — surrounded by competitors from companies like IBM, GlaxoSmithKlein and Bellevue Medical Center — to receive third prize in the long-term care category for its “successful and innovative programs,” according to a press release.

“I’m surprised and truly honored that we were recognized,” Ms. DeMasi said in an interview Friday morning. It was her concept that led to the development of San Simeon’s adult day care program and she led the effort to obtain grant money and contributions to make the program a reality. San Simeon has always been recognized for its innovations locally and throughout New York State, but now it’s known nationally, Ms. DeMasi said.

“It was very exciting to be in the room with such diverse groups of providers,” she said of the Press Club luncheon where she received the award.

She returned with a sense of the interconnectedness of various health services and a rededication to continuing what has been a cooperative relationship among San Simeon, Peconic Landing, Eastern Long Island Hospital and the Southold Town Human Resources Department. She’s also developing a relationship with the Veterans Administration to provide rehabilitation and day care services for veterans. The result is an excellent referral network for the various providers, Ms. DeMasi said.

There is a reluctance among seniors to access Medicaid to cover the cost of the day care program, Ms. DeMasi said. When she recognizes a financial need, she works to provide assistance in filing the application, she said.

“Many would qualify and they just won’t do it,” she said about seeking financial assistance.

She credits day care center director Louise Blackburn with many of the ideas that have been implemented in the program this year and she said they hadn’t initially realized how large a role San Simeon would play in case management. San Simeon day care program staff see participants anywhere from one or two to five days a week, and are able to identify specific needs and coordinate care with doctors and families.

“We started with a full basket” of services, Ms. DeMasi said. The day care program provides medical and dental care, physical and occupational therapy, socialization and even such services as a beauty parlor, Ms. DeMasi said.

“We get to be the objective voice with the family,” she said. Family caregivers are often reluctant to seek respite through the day care program, she said. But once they take the step, they realize that San Simeon can provide services they can’t and can give family caregivers a much needed break.

“You have to build the support cushion for them when they come,” Ms. DeMasi said. She also anticipates that when day care participants need to enter San Simeon’s nursing home facility, the transition will be less traumatic because they will already know their caregivers and be familiar with the surroundings.

“There’s a lot of relief” among program participants’ family members, Ms. Blackburn said. It follows a pattern, she said. At first, caregivers approach the program with apprehension, but after a period of trust-building, they express a sense of relief and security about how their loved ones are being treated, she said. Spouses and other family members tell Ms. Blackburn that’s because so much of the care has been lifted from their shoulders, enabling them to attend to their own health needs.

With aging baby boomers, the day care program will likely get even more use, Ms. DeMasi predicted, adding that the program also accommodates developmentally disabled participants.

The newly built facility can accommodate up to 30 people per day, but not all attend daily. With an average of 19 patients per day, there’s still plenty of room for growth. Right now, the program operates five days a week, but Ms. DeMasi and Ms. Blackburn said they will continue to assess the need and could eventually add an evening or weekend program.

“Day care is none too soon on the East End,” said Ms. Blackburn.

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