What is habilitation?

Dr. Gary E. Eddey.

By Gary E. Eddey, MD

The term “habilitation” refers to an approach to healthcare services for individuals with developmental disabilities. It includes comprehensive medical, nursing, therapeutic and educational care, is designed for children and adults and can be provided in either a community or inpatient setting. Habilitation services are essential for those with congenital disabilities, or disabilities acquired early in life, and are often best provided in a community setting for the majority of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Habilitation focuses on the individual, improving his/her functioning and overall health in a supportive environment. It takes into consideration needs in a wide variety of areas including social services, psychology, psychiatry, recreation, therapies, integrated medical and nursing services and, depending on age, educational services. Research confirms the two-way relationship between a full and active lifestyle and physical health for persons with disabilities.

A successful habilitative model must maximize potential at all points along the lifespan continuum. With its emphasis on an integrated approach to care and services, the habilitative model reverses or impedes a decline in health among this at-risk population.

The goal of habilitation is to normalize the life of the individual with developmental disabilities as well as his/her family. Families are a critical element in the care and support of people with disabilities. They are advocates and guardians in most instances. However, the abilities and needs of families must continually be assessed throughout the life cycle. Frequently families can and do provide care when the individual with disabilities is young. This becomes more difficult and, impossible for some, as the individual with disabilities ages.

(The first of several articles by Gary E. Eddey, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Matheny, on the habilitative healthcare model).

Start a team!

Kaila’s Krew, one of many teams formed by Matheny families.

A great way to raise money to support Miles for Matheny, our annual fundraiser and community event, is to start a team for your school, church, book club, running club or friends and family. It’s a fun way to spend the day together at the event and a great way to help get more donations. You can create a team registration page, train together, set team fundraising goals or even make it a “friendly” competition among your teammates to see who can raise the most money.

Team fundraising tips are offered online at www.milesformatheny.org. You can also call Patricia Cats at (908) 234-0011, ext. 260, or email her at pcats@matheny.org.

Miles for Matheny is being held Sunday, April 21, at Liberty Park in downtown Peapack, NJ. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny inpatients and people with disabilities in the community. Activities include:  five Cycling Routes, a USATF-certified 5K Road Race, Kids Fun Run, the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk and The Friends of Matheny “Breakfast of Champions”, followed by luncheon refreshments in the park.

Major Miles sponsors are: Poses Family Foundation, title sponsor; Porzio Bromberg & Newman, P.C., attorneys at law; Peapack-Gladstone Bank; Partlow Insurance Agency; Affinity Federal Credit Union; and WCBS-TV and WCBS Newsradio 880.

Running team from RDA Fitness in Byram, NJ.


Create a Miles webpage!

5K and Kids Fun Run runners love to finish their race and cheer on the wheelchair participants as they approach the finish line.

A great way to raise money for Miles for Matheny, our annual fundraiser and community event, is to create a personal webpage on the Miles for Matheny website. You can upload photos of you and your teammates, set fundraising and training goals and send emails to friends and family asking them to support your efforts.

Plus, you can send updates, which serve as gentle reminders, as the event day gets closer. And, once the event is over, you can continue to fundraise by sending photos and notes to let people know how you did as a runner, cyclist or walking partner.

Miles is being held Sunday, April 21, at Liberty Park in downtown Peapack. The signature activity is the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk in which more than 100 wheelchair participants, with walking partners, travel 1.5 miles around town. There’s also a USATF-NJ sanctioned 5K race, five different Cycling routes and a Kids Fun Run. All money raised will help support the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny inpatients and people with disabilities in communities throughout New Jersey.

To get more information and to find out how you can be part of this uplifting event, log onto www.milesformatheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

Wheeling and walking

Braving the elements at Miles for Matheny 2012.

The late Lu Huggins was concerned that Matheny students and patients “had no idea what life was like in the real world. And no one in the community ever saw them.” So in 1998, she helped create the first Miles for Matheny, which included a wheelchair walk and one cycling ride.

On Sunday, April 21, the 16th annual Miles for Matheny will be held at Liberty Park in downtown Peapack, NJ, and the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk will, of course, be the centerpiece. Friends and family members will be able to enjoy walking alongside more than 100 Matheny children and adults, who “wheel” through the streets of downtown Peapack to the cheers of community members and other supporters.

All funds raised at Miles for Matheny will benefit the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry, which provides medical, dental and therapy care to Matheny inpatients and to people with disabilities in the community. Other activities, in addition to the Wheelchair Walk, are a USAF-sanctioned 5K Race, five different Cycling routes and a Kids Fun Run.

To find out how you can be part of this fun and uplifting event, log onto www.milesformatheny.org or call (908) 234-0011, ext. 260.

A teacher who ‘rocks’

Darlene Tammara uses picture symbols to make a story more understandable to student Deborah Eike. At left is occupational therapist Debbie Goodheart.

Darlene Tammara, a teacher at the Matheny School, has been selected as one of the “Teachers Who Rock” by Greater Media radio stations WDHA 105.5FM and WMTR 1250AM. The stations annually recognize 24 outstanding teachers in New Jersey for their important contribution to society. Each Friday, two winners are announced, and their stories are read on both stations’ morning shows. Tammara’s name was announced on Friday, January 25. She and the other 23 honorees will be feted at a dinner on April 23 at Ravello Elegant Weddings & Banquets in East Hanover, NJ.

Tammara teaches a transition class at Matheny, meaning she instructs older students in life skills that will help them after they graduate. Four years ago, she started the Tea Time Café, a snack bar managed by Matheny students for Matheny employees. Her students count money from Tea Time sales, enter the results on a special math worksheet and make bank deposits.  The students also work on clerical jobs for Matheny and fill packages for Operation Shoebox, an organization that sends care packages to U.S. troops deployed overseas.

A resident of Bridgewater, NJ, Tammara appreciates Matheny’s trans-disciplinary approach, “where therapists work in the classroom with teachers. We all work together. I feel very strongly about that – it’s such a collaborative effort.” Her colleagues apparently feel the same way about Tammara as they nominated her Matheny’s educator of the year for the 2012-2013 school year.

Mask auction on Fat Tuesday

Verve owner Rick St. Pierre toasts with one of his customers, Eric Patton of Somerville.

The walls of the Verve Bistro Bar & Lounge in Somerville, NJ, were filled with hanging masks made by facilitators in Matheny’s Arts Access Program, students in Matheny’s Adult Services Program and members of the Junior Friends of Matheny. The occasion was opening night, Thursday, February 7, of Verve’s Mardi Gras-Carnivale celebration featuring, in the words of owner Rick St. Pierre, “food and libations of Venice, Brazil and New Orleans, baubles, beads, gaudy decorations and cheap plastic trinkets.”

The celebration was held over the weekend of February 8-9 and will culminate on Fat Tuesday, February 12, with a silent auction for the masks. A portion of the proceeds from the Carnivale will go to Matheny for the second consecutive year. There is still time to join the celebration tonight, by making a reservation. Just call (908) 707-8655; Verve is located at 18 East Main St.

One of two masks created by Arts Access facilitator Joe Matousek that will have an opening bid of $100 at the silent auction.

Filling the Bill

From left, MBS students Blake Kernen of Short Hills, NJ; William Segal, Millington, NJ; Kendall Cairoli, Tewksbury, NJ; Lamson; and Jenna Dertouzas, Oakland, NJ.

During the 11 years that he taught science at Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, NJ, Bill Lamson spent every Monday afternoon bringing a group of seven students to Matheny to help out with recreation therapy activities and to interact socially with Matheny patients and students. The Mo-Beard volunteers rotated from a group of approximately 75 students.

In addition to this regular routine, Lamson also galvanized his students to volunteer and raise money to support Miles for Matheny, the annual fundraiser and community event held every April. Last year, despite the rain and wind, more than 20 Mo-Beard students served as walking partners in the Lu Huggins Wheelchair Walk.

Lamson, a resident of West Caldwell, NJ, is now retired, but he visited Matheny one last time in  January with some of his students, to enjoy a thank you party organized by coordinator of volunteer activities Gail Cunningham and volunteer assistant David Curcio. They presented him with several mementoes of his time at Matheny including photos, press clips and one more Miles for Matheny t-shirt to add to his collection.

Future healthcare workers

Visiting with Matheny adult patient Rasheedah Mahali, clockwise from lower left, are: Jocelyne Munoz (glasses) and Michelle Pelaez, Bound Brook, NJ; Dayanna Mendoza, North Plainfield, NJ; Nancy Giamo, Bridgewater, NJ; Ina Geathers, Somerville, NJ; Daniela Lopez, Raritan, NJ; Sabrinna Miranda and Zoe Ledesman, North Plainfield; and Bethany Schultz, Hillsborough, NJ.

Health occupation students from the Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School in Bridgewater, NJ, regularly rotate through Matheny to observe treatment sessions in occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, music therapy, recreation therapy, dietary services and pharmacy services. During the most recent visit this month, the students, according to their instructor Kim Vasaturo, “were genuinely amazed at all the adaptive equipment and truly astonished at how, despite their disabilities, these young people (Matheny patients) are just like them.”

Among the activities the students experienced were driving motorized wheelchairs, riding on adaptive bicycles and getting raised into a wheelchair by Matheny’s overhead lift system. The SCVTS students are encouraged to connect conventional classroom instruction with work-linked experiences.

Our Grammy nominee

Paul West playing the kithara.

Matheny School teaching assistant Paul West could soon have something none of his colleagues have—a Grammy award.

Here’s how it happened. While studying for his undergraduate degree in music theory/composition at Montclair State University, West became familiar with a man named Harry Partch, a classical music composer who invented unusual instruments to be used in the performance of his compositions. The Cali School of Music at MSU is the home of the Harry Partch Institute, which has the largest collection of Partch instruments in the world.

Then, while studying for a Master of Fine Arts degree at the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles, West joined a quartet that recorded Harry Partch: Bitter Music (Bridge Records), the first-ever complete recording of Partch’s rambling diary with music. On the recording, West plays the kithara, a 72-string harp based on the ancient Greek lyre. The album has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the ‘Best Classical Compendium’ category.

The Grammys will be presented on February 10 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but, whether or not Bitter Music wins, West is happy that Partch will have received some recognition. “It’s nice to see some kind of awareness for a great American figure who nobody knows about,” he says. He and his wife, Matheny music therapist Alissa West, will be attending the awards ceremony.

PCA mentors

On December 19, the 26 new mentors received certificates recognizing their completion of training.

Matheny has introduced a revived, comprehensive training program for new personal care assistants (PCAs) within the nursing department. PCAs play a unique role in providing for the most basic care of Matheny’s patients and students. So, consistency in staffing is critical in order to promote early detection of changes in patients’ and students’ physical or emotional condition. PCAs and residents develop a strong bond of trust and companionship.

Twenty-six mentors who are currently PCAs have completed an updated training program, administered by Bonnie Rodgers, director of staff development. Continued training will take place annually for new mentors. PCAs are vital members of the interdisciplinary team at Matheny, and their input and observations are essential for effective care planning.

Mask madness

Arts Access drama facilitator Burt Brooks puts a new spin on comedy/tragedy.

The facilitators in Matheny’s Arts Access Program have immersed themselves in the Mardi Gras spirit, creating more than two dozen masks to be part of the silent auction on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Verve, a French restaurant in Somerville, NJ. For the second straight year, Verve has selected Matheny to be the beneficiary of its Mardi Gras-Carnivale celebration, which, according to owner Rick St. Pierre, will feature “food and libations of Venice, Brazil and New Orleans, baubles, beads, gaudy decorations and cheap plastic trinkets.”

On Feb. 7-10 and Feb. 12, a portion of the proceeds at Verve will go to Matheny. Last year’s Mardi Gras celebration raised $1,900.

Since opening in the late 1990s, St. Pierre has consistently given back to the community. He was named Somerville’s Citizen of the Year in 2011, and he is chairman of the Downtown Somerville Alliance events committee. In 2008, he was given the Somerset County Business Partnership’s Economic Vitality Award.

Verve recently received a 3½ star review in The Star-Ledger. The restaurant is located at 18 East Main Street. To make reservations, call (908) 707-8655 and be sure to mention Matheny.

Some of the many masks produced by the creative crew at Arts Access.