Although it started as a nursing home in 1969 on Detroit Avenue, St. Augustine Health Ministries has evolved throughout the years to greatly expand its continuum of care to meet the growing needs of a diverse patient population.
Today, the nonprofit offers independent and assisted-living housing for senior citizens, as well as long-term care. It provides post-hospital physical rehab and end-of-life care and delivers meals to homebound seniors in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood
“We’ve expanded to meet the needs of the community,” says Dana Carns, director of marketing, development and public relations with St. Augustine. “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,” Carns says.
St. Augustine will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a fundraiser, RetroMania 1969, from 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. About 20 local chefs will prepare dishes and hors d’oeuvres in a Best Bites competition, and guests will need to purchase a ticket to sample everything. Visit staugministries.org for more information.
Each chef station will feature a 1969-based theme, like Apollo 11, Woodstock or even the Cuyahoga River fire. A band will perform 1960s tunes. The fundraiser also will include an auction, raffles and games like Plinko.
“It will be a fun night,” Carns says.
Money raised from the event will help St. Augustine pay for client services not fully covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance — and St. Augustine is always looking for opportunities to add new services and assist more people.
For example, in the early 1990s, St. Augustine was one of the first long-term care institutions in Ohio to create a dedicated unit for HIV patients. St. Augustine staff was trained especially for this purpose. At the time, AIDS patients were desperate and dying.
Thanks to medication advancements, St. Augustine no longer has the AIDS unit, but AIDS patients still come in for short-term rehab, Carns says.
At one point, St. Augustine expanded into palliative and hospice care. It acquired Holy Family Cancer Home in Parma and renamed the facility Holy Family Home Health Care and Hospice, which can bring end-of-life care into the patient’s home.
Just last year, St. Augustine 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 says.
St. Augustine even opened an early-learning child care center on its campus. At first the center was just for staffers and their children, but now it enrolls children throughout the community.
And every year, St. Augustine takes its nursing home and assisted living residents to Camp Cheerful, a camp for children and adults with disabilities. The residents enjoy the fresh air, fish, swim, interact with horses, play games and take part in arts and crafts.
St. Augustine receives minimal reimbursement for the Camp Cheerful trip so it relies mostly on donations.
“It’s a costly endeavor, but we do it because it’s the right thing to do,” Carns says.