Meet Kristen Elkins

Kristen Elkins began her career as a Direct Support Professional working as a teacher’s aide at a special education preschool during summer breaks from college. She subsequently earned degrees in both Psychology and Criminal Justice with a Forensic Psychology specialization from St. John’s University.

After graduation from college, Kristen was employed as a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional at United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, where she spent 11 years in positions of increasing responsibility. She last held the position of Director of Compliance and Quality Improvement at the agency.

Kristen relocated to the Hudson Valley from Brooklyn where she was referred to Opengate by a former colleague. She immediately felt the position with Opengate was a perfect fit for her.

Coming to Opengate with 15 years in the field, Kristen currently holds the title of Chief Compliance Officer where she oversees compliance with federal and state regulations, the incident management process, and internal policies and procedures. She also develops and maintains training curricula and coordinates the internal audit process. Kristen recently earned Certification in Healthcare Compliance (CHC) from the Compliance Certification Board.

My goal is to make compliance fun! I want to empower employees with knowledge, and to support programs to achieve innovative, person centered programming.

As an avid long distance runner, Kristen has completed 13 marathons and 5 ultramarathons (a distance longer than 26.2 miles), and recently participated in the Boston Marathon. She loves to travel and calls herself an adrenaline junkie! Travel highlights include shark diving in Honduras, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, bungee jumping in Costa Rica, trekking in Peru and rappelling down waterfalls in Ecuador.

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

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Karen G. Gennaro, M.D. Appointed Medical Director

We are delighted to announce Karen G. Gennaro, M.D. has been appointed Opengate’s Medical Director. Dr. Gennaro has provided psychiatric care to our residents for the past 10 years and is very familiar with our focus of care. She is experienced in both the medical and psychiatric fields. Some of her accomplishments include:

  • Past President of both the Psychiatric Society of Westchester and the Westchester Academy of Medicine
  • Senior Fellow with the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry
  • APA Distinguished Fellow, early research psychopharmacologist for Otto Kernberg’s comparative personality disorder psychotherapies project

She hails from a multigenerational family of medical professionals. After earning her MBA, and a successful career in business, Dr. Gennaro returned to the family business of medicine, studying at the University of Illinois as well as Case Western Reserve University. She completed her residency training at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in White Plains, NY.

Dr. Gennaro is an expert in treating personality issues and is able to draw on her vast training and experience in psychiatry, psychoanalysis and the cognitive therapies in order to tailor a unique blend of treatments to help each individual patient maximize their unique strengths and shore up their vulnerabilities.

Her office will continue to be located at 29 Warren Street, Somers, NY.

We are also pleased to announce that Opengate will be partnering with Hudson Valley Regional Community Health Centers in Brewster, NY to focus on providing the best comprehensive primary health care to all of our residents. Our partnership is to build a healthy community and continue to improve our individual’s health, well-being, and quality of life.

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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Employee of the Month, March 2019

Employee of the Month

Congratulations to Emroy McPherson for being selected the Employee of the Month

Emroy McPherson will be celebrating 20 years with Opengate in August, 2019. He currently holds the position of Lead Counselor at our Day Habilitation Program.

Emroy was selected as Employee of the Month by the vote of fellow staff members of Opengate.

Employee of the Month collage

Chief Operating Officer, Deborah Mayo, and Chief Human Resources Officer, Victoria Ribon, present Emroy with his certificate.

Congratulations to Emroy McPherson from the staff of Opengate for being nominated and elected Employee of the Month by your fellow employees.

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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Terrance Harris in the Spotlight

Terrance Harris wasn’t looking for a career path, but he describes lovely stories about  individuals and their daily lives told to him by his mother who was a teacher at Opengate. Through his mother’s stories he found his passion to make a positive impact on the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Terrance began his career at Opengate in the late 1980’s. He started as a Direct Support Professional working with individuals in the workshop areas and in residences where he administered the food service program. This experience led him to job coaching with individuals, enhancing their skills, and securing positions for several at IBM. Subsequently, the position of Assistant Manager at Frankel House became available, he applied and was promoted to that location.

Another inspiration for Terrance was the late Steve Queenan, a long-term and beloved staff member of Opengate. He reports that Steve was the impetus behind pursuing his degree in social work and continuing to advance in his career choice.

Currently, in the position of Director of Residential Services, Terrance says that his essential goals are ensuring policies and procedures are followed and providing a safe environment for all of the individuals so they may live fulfilling lives. He also emphasizes the importance of a well trained staff that are greatly appreciated for the jobs they perform.

After living in New York City for several years, Terrance is now enjoying the quiet pace of the suburbs where he moved in 2015. He takes pleasure relaxing on his deck, walking nature trails, and watching hummingbirds. He’s happy for the change in scenery and the contrast to living the city life on concrete.

Terrance Harris quote to live by: “Work hard – Have fun – Make a difference!”

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

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Vacations and Travel for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

 

 

The world is your oyster!

Or, if you don’t eat oysters, perhaps a Sweet Pickle Tour through New England offered by Search Beyond Adventures would be tastier.

Adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers have a menu of options through travel agents and tour companies who serve the needs of this specialized niche market.

Travel is fun and interesting, however, planning and preparing for a trip is often hectic and stressful. A good tour company can relieve the stresses and ease the way into an unforgettable experience.

Whether you and your caregiver choose to be by the ocean, in the mountains, have a therapeutic adventure, or travel abroad, the options are unlimited.

Tips to help prepare for a memorable vacation:

Choose a reputable travel agency or tour company that is distinctively geared towards an experience tailored to your needs. Many have discounts for a traveling companion or caregiver.

Call ahead to airlines, hotels and all providers along the itinerary of your trip to insure that any specific accommodations will be handled.

Be specific about your accommodations. If you need a roll in shower or other significant needs, be sure they are all spelled out ahead of time.

Put medications in your carry on bag, not your checked bags, in the event a bag is lost you will have them with you at all times. It’s also a good idea to pack extra medication if your trip is delayed for any reason.

Purchase a good travel insurance policy, preferably one with a pre-existing condition exclusion as well as a “cancel for any reason” clause if there is an unforeseen reason you can’t make the trip and have prepaid certain funds.

Benefits of travel for adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers

A break from the normal daily routine

Getting outdoors and being physically active

Rest and relaxation

Experience different cultures

Create new memories

The psychological and physical benefits of travel are undeniable and allow all individuals to become immersed in new experiences and re-live the memories for years to come.

Traveling gives you a break from the ordinary stresses of life, renews the spirit and rejuvenates the mind.

So, either rest and relaxation, or serious adventure, will bring years of enhancement to your health and well being.

Grab your gear, make a reservation, and get going!

Below is a list of travel and tour companies that specialize in accommodations to explore.

(Opengate, Inc. has no affiliation with these companies and is not responsible for their quality and services).

 

TRAVEL COMPANIES

Access Tours

Access Tours specializes in tours that are fully accessible.  They are designed with wheelchair users, scooter users, and slow walkers in mind.  Group sizes are small, usually limited to 10 people or fewer, the pace is relaxed, and the company friendly.

Disabled Travelers

Disabled Travelers is dedicated to accessible travel information and provides information on businesses from around the world that specialize in disability travel.

The Guided Tour

The Guided Tour is a very special program that offers opportunities for personal growth, recreation and socialization through travel.  Since 1972, thousands of men and women with developmental and physical challenges from all over the world have achieved greater independence through the travel experiences provided by The Guided Tour, Inc.

Hammer Travel

Hammer Travel offers a variety of travel opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Lucky Mindy Adventures

Lucky Mindy Adventures provides fully staffed (based on client need), wheelchair-accessible (if needed) tours for individuals with disabilities.

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path, Inc. is a Minnesota-based corporation which has been providing economic vacations for developmentally disabled ambulant individuals since 1985.

Search Beyond Adventures

Founded in 1979, Search Beyond Adventures provides all-inclusive escorted vacations for travelers with disabilities and special needs, ages 17 and up.

Ventures Travel

Venture Travels offers unique opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy resident camp, respite care, and supervised travel.

Wilderness Inquiry

Since 1978, Wilderness Inquiry has conducted integrated wilderness trips involving people with disabilities as well as people who do not have disabilities – as equals and peers.

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

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