A Walk of Honor

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We would like to remind everyone of Opengate’s ongoing program which honors or memorializes a special someone from Opengate, our communities, or those committed to our mission with a memory brick or bench.

Through this program we continue to offer the opportunity to individuals and local businesses to purchase either memory bricks or benches as a way to recognize a loved one, a supporter, or to honor their memory.

Funds acquired from the purchase of bricks and benches is another avenue to sponsor projects which are not covered by our regular funding sources. Some of the projects we are faced with are updating and maintenance of our homes, customized furniture to meet the needs of our residents, medical and sensory products, as well as special events and outings.

As you can see in the photos, the bricks are located on a path leading up to the Gazebo located at our Somers location. Benches are spread around the property and add a beautiful touch to the grounds.

We hope you will join us in honoring those who are committed to the mission of Opengate and the individuals we serve.

To purchase Bricks or a Bench in Memory or in Honor of someone:

8×8 Engraved Brick with up to 4 lines of text with 20 characters per line (including spaces and punctuation). The cost for the engraved bricks is $500

4×8 brick with up to 3 lines of text with 20 characters per line (including spaces and punctuation). $200

The cost for the engraved bench is $2,000:  Text is limited to 3 rows of text with a maximum of 31 characters per line.

To purchase a brick contact Lynn Marbach at (914)277-5350 extension 1102 or email at: LynnM@opengateinc.org 


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Spotlight on Julie Payne, DSP

Julie Payne

Julie Payne

Julie Payne has recognized the worthiness and dignity of each individual in her care for over 10 years as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at Opengate. She acknowledges the integrity and responsibility of being an advocate and knows that it’s the “little things” that add joy and cheer to the day.

Understanding that each person has a right to live the life they want, and respecting the importance of self-determination, Julie is aware of each individual’s personal outcome measures. She provides time to work with them one-on-one on craft projects, gardening, or whatever is important to them, in order to ensure they have all they need to succeed.

With the ability to work independently, and using her outstanding work ethic and dynamic personality, Julie has become the backbone of support for not only residents but also her co-workers and support team. Using a hands on approach, she begins each morning assisting residents to begin their work or day programs. She has reviewed each individual’s personal history, medical needs, plans and outcomes, and works with an approach the individual is happy with.

At Marcy IRA, Julie Payne has become a preferred staff member due to her exemplary abilities as a DSP. Her co-workers and residents value and appreciate the guidance they receive from her. She understands that it’s her duty to speak on behalf of residents when they can not communicate their needs for support or services ensuring their continuous well-being. Along with her regular duties, Julie often takes on extra tasks and is well known for her organizational skills.

Julie Payne represents all that we look for in regards to safe and happy care for the individuals served at Opengate. She is a proven asset, not only to Opengate, but also in her field as a Direct Support Professional.


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Opengate Welcomes New Medical Director

DrAndreaRitchin

Opengate Medical Director, Dr. Andrea Ritchin

Welcome aboard to our new Medical Director, Andrea Ritchin.   Dr. Ritchin comes to us with a background in Family Medicine, having earned her medical degree from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and having completed her specialty training at the Residency Program in Social Medicine at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.

During her years as a primary care physician in the Bronx, and later in Mt. Kisco, Dr. Ritchin developed an affinity for working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In both locations, she built a faithful following of pediatric and adult IDD patients.  

Dr. Ritchin says that her career thus far has been very rewarding.  She found she was able to meet the challenges of caring for individuals with IDD by partnering with their families, caretakers, and advocates.  The opportunity to serve exclusively IDD adults alongside other people dedicated to the same goal pleases her:  

When I received the invitation to come to Opengate, my first reaction was great happiness,” says Dr. Ritchin.  She adds, “Opengate has terrific nurses … they are the heart and soul of the medical staff. I have so much to learn from them.”

Dr. Ritchin’s immediate goals include getting to know each Opengate resident both as an individual as well as a medical patient.   She looks forward to working with the nursing staff to attend to the specific medical needs of each individual, not only treating specific medical issues as they arise, but also performing routine annual physical exams as well as coordinating specialty care.

Dr. Ritchin recognizes the disparity in access to health care for individuals with disabilities.  She would like to see more medical research addressed specifically to their needs, working towards evidence-based guidelines for all physicians who work on behalf of individuals with IDD.

An “empty nester,” Dr. Ritchin spends her free time reading (fiction and biography are favorites), gardening, and enjoying theater and music.   She is learning to play the viola, and is currently struggling to master a Bach minuet.

Welcome to Opengate, Dr. Andrea Ritchin; we are proud to have you as part of our team.


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Honoring Direct Support Professionals

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(*highlighting some of our honored Direct Support Professionals)

September 10-17, 2017 Opengate joins other organizations to celebrate Direct Support Professionals Week honoring DSPs for choosing a career that enriches the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are the foundation of Opengate’s network of professionals who furnish care from the basics to medical and psychological services for each of our individuals. They often go beyond what’s expected to ensure our individuals have what is necessary to enjoy the richness of their lives.

Working in a variety of settings, they are committed to using their personal passions and talents with those they care for. DSPs exemplify the standards set forth for them and promote respectful, personal support with integrity.

By providing a home-like atmosphere of safety and respect, our residents interact with direct care staff on a daily basis. DSPs who attend to them earn their trust and loyalty and oftentimes become as close to them as family members.

According to the New York Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) the workforce is made up of over 3.6 million DSPs across the United States who provide care for individuals with disabilities.

Opengate is showing our appreciation for all the hard work of our DSPs by giving each one a gift card as well as a celebratory meal throughout the week. We treasure our DSPs and honor the abilities and compassion of them all.


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Is Community Inclusion Right for All?

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One of Opengate’s beautiful homes

Listen to this article:

When the word “institution” is used, thoughts race back to the Willowbrook scandal and its exposure to the world. No one ever wishes for this type of situation to happen again in respect to housing individuals with disabilities or behavioral problems.

Current language surrounding matters of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) include “community,” “inclusion,” and “integration.” These ideals are very meaningful and necessary in the dialogue about housing and personal care for individuals with IDD, however, they must be used with a more distinct application.

Moreover, changes have been made in recent years involving regulations about housing for people with IDD, especially attempting not to be isolating or institutional.

Can one be isolated when living within a community?

Isolation isn’t always being alone, it can be feeling alone, even in the confines of a community if those within aren’t interactive, or worse, ignore you. Often a complaint of independently living people with IDD, is that the community they chose to live in isn’t made up of neighbors with shared common ground, therefore making it difficult to create friendly relationships.

Inclusion and integration into communities must be addressed with the individual’s optimal outcome in the forefront. In some cases, placing a person with IDD into an independent living situation does not meet their personal requirements and ideas of community.

Furthermore, inclusion should be within the context of meaningful engagement with those we feel comfortable with and close to. For many individuals, even those who are highly independent, inclusion in a community that presents no common ground can be more isolating than living in housing situations which are intentionally planned.

At agencies like Opengate, we work with each individual, their families, and caretakers to create an atmosphere that best suits their ideals in conjunction with their planned personal outcomes. We strive to ensure that each person has all they need to reach their full potential, no matter what that may be, along with experienced and professional staff to assist them.

Our housing options are intentionally planned to give our residents what they desire as well as engage them in activities both in house and within the communities where they reside.

Opengate Somers campus

The gazebo on the grounds of our Somers, NY location

Who decides where adults with IDD live?

A core issue is who makes the decision to live independently or live in a group setting. We believe that each person, with the input of family members and professionals, should be able to determine where they feel most comfortable and have the best resources for the individual.

An underlying consideration is regulation and funding. As more of the general public is aging, so are those with disabilities. It’s crucial to the population to be able to have options concerning housing, health care, and general well-being. While we must comply with new regulations in respect to these issues, it becomes more and more difficult to fund expansion and maintenance of our available homes, programs and services, and our staffing needs.

To those in our care, we are their community, their safe harbor, their home. We are happy to be their option of choice and we continue to work towards our vision: To be the premier provider of programs for the developmentally disabled in New York’s Hudson Valley, with special focus on those with behavioral issues. We will accomplish this through innovation, responsiveness and the teamwork of all stakeholders.


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To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

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