“Cardinal Dolan’s Special Visit”
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, along with Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, visited Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center – the nation’s largest post-acute care center for medically complex children – to call attention to the “aging out” crisis impacting residents who reach age 22. By State regulation, this makes them too old to continue receiving care at the Center.
During his visit, the Cardinal gathered with a group of the Center’s teenagers, families and staff to hear directly about how aging out of the facility will drastically upend the care they depend on by forcing these medically complex young adults to leave what many have called their homes for their entire lives. The staff also shared with the Cardinal their vision to solve the crisis: a first-of-its-kind facility to provide specialized care to medically complex young adults, just steps from the Center.
“We are grateful to His Eminence for lending his support to the children and young adults at Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center by visiting us during his Lenten Journey,” said CEO Pat Tursi. “We strive to give our children opportunities to experience the fullness of life, but once they age out of our care, their options are severely limited and the consequences are dire. Modern advances in medicine and technology have been blessings for our medically complex children, but these same advances now present us with a problem that must be solved within five years before dozens of our children reach age 21. That is why Cardinal Dolan’s leadership, support and prayers are so valuable to us at this urgent moment, and we are thankful to him for all of his efforts to raise awareness about this issue.
“What happens when they’re 21?” asked Cardinal Dolan. “They need full time care; we owe that to them because of how much we love them,” he said. “These are still young people and the older they get here the more they’re beloved and the more they’re an example to the other kids that come in, so if we can keep them in this embrace it will be so much better for them, so we have to work on that.”
The Center is home to 169 medically complex children of all ages up to 21 who need constant care and support. Tragically, 30 percent of the Center’s residents who age out die within 14 months due to the lack of long-term care options that can adequately meet their specialized needs. In total, 52 of the Center’s residents will reach age 21 by 2024, which is three times greater than the number of children in the same age group just five years ago. This increase is driven by tremendous advances in medical technology that have allowed more children to thrive into young adulthood.
Geriatric nursing homes are often the only long-term care options for children who age out of the Center. Most such facilities are not well-suited, nor were they intended, to meet the physical and emotional needs of medically complex young adults.
The aging out crisis is impacting medically complex children across New York State and the nation. According to a 2016 study, 24,000 medically complex individuals under the age of 35 were enrolled in New York’s Medicaid program, and this number was estimated to be growing at a rate of 5 percent annually. Of these individuals, 9,100 were in the aging out age range.
Nationwide, there are approximately three million medically complex children, and this number is also increasing at a rate of 5 percent each year.
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Please contact us at 1 (833) 63-SETON