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May 13, 2015

President’s Letter - May 2015

Dear Friends,

For 65 years Joan “Joanie” McLean lived a busy life with dignity and grace at Inglis House. After her passing in February at age 84, her Inglis extended family gathered with relatives to pay tribute to a life well-lived. Even though she did not speak or read, Joanie brightened every room she entered with a wide smile that engaged a large circle of admirers. 

When Joanie arrived at Inglis in 1950, families had few places to turn to ensure their 1970 table tennisloved ones received the best possible care.  Then known as The Philadelphia Home for the Incurables, our nurses lived on the premises and worked side-by-side with Board members and other volunteers to administer care. Medicaid and Medicare were still thirteen years in the future, healthcare knowledge about complex diseases was limited and resources were scarce,  with no government funding to support the provision of services.

Since then, so many medical advances have enabled people to live longer and better. Miracle drugs mitigate pain and extend lives; new health care diagnostic tools and treatments enhance abilities; and power wheelchairs and mobility devices create new levels of independence.  And now, thanks to adapted computing and mobility technologies, anyone in the Inglis Community – with the use of something as simple as a mouth-stick or as advanced as the latest eye tracking technology - can connect with family, friends and the world at-large through the internet. 

Inglis has been a leader in caring for people with disabilities for more than 138 years and is only one of a few organizations in the country that offers a continuum of care across the disability spectrum – independent living, day program, employment and community services, technology training and, of course, Inglis House. We recognize that many people with disabilities now prefer to live independently in the community – an option that Joanie and her family did not have in 1960.

It is an exciting time at Inglis as we work to find innovative ways for people to discover new abilities and achieve greater independence.  Soon, housing options for people with physical disabilities will expand with 40 new Accessibility Plus apartments at Inglis Gardens at Belmont.  Construction has begun adjacent to our campus on 2600 Belmont Avenue and is slated for completion in the late spring of 2016.  This affordable, accessible, fully-integrated housing community will be our most technologically enhanced campus yet.  

We are also working to launch our innovative Inglis Community LIFE program.  Inglis LIFE is a new model of care designed to serve people with complex disabilities who wish to live in the community but need access to more significant services and supports for daily living.  The program will offer consumers a disability-competent and highly coordinated health care network, attendant care services, access to advanced technologies for independence and well-being and engagement opportunities to empower them to achieve their goals and live life to the fullest.  Developed in partnership with the Commonwealth’s Department of Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Inglis LIFE is designed to improve lives while using scarce government resources far more effectively and efficiently.

In addition, our Person Centered Care (PCC) initiative is beginning to soar at Inglis House.  Residents and staff are working to make life in our 3 South and 2 South pilot neighborhoods more like home every day.  That includes a warm, nurturing and team oriented environment that empowers residents and staff to work together to make decisions that are best both for the individual as well as the community.   Central to the transformation from institution to home is the creation of person centered processes like made-to-order dining, personalized daily routines and neighborhood driven, home-like renovations.  This includes rejuvenated public spaces and hallways, upgraded solariums, accessible neighborhood kitchens and refreshed resident rooms.  The 3 South renovations are SPECTACULAR and were made possible through a generous gift from former Board Chair Dixie Wigton, who has supported Inglis for over 60 years.  We are most grateful to Dixie and to all of our Inglis Board members, family members and volunteers who have been so generous with their time, treasure and talents over the years.  

Finally, our new Wellness & Rehabilitation Center opened this week. This spacious open-concept gym will offer residents the newest equipment and an all-new roster of wellness programs.  The Center is made possible by generous grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Inglis Golf Outing, Reliant Senior Care and Connie and Sankey Williams through the Hess Foundation.  In addition to the great new space, our residents are benefiting from wellness programs on nutrition, mindfulness, stress reduction, and weight management as well as the extraordinary talents of our physical, occupational and speech therapists, and recreational and adapted tech staff.  Another exciting addition to the program is our new 3D printer, which staff is using to manufacture wheelchair parts, joy sticks and other personalized tools to meet the unique needs of our residents.

To remind us why this is all so important, I bring our thoughts back to Joanie, who in 2013 was recognized with the Most Courageous Athlete Award at the annual Keen Games. It was a heartwarming moment for Joanie and her family as well as for all of us who marveled at her courage each and every day, always managing to make the world a brighter place. She was never defined by her disability, but by those special moments she created on a daily basis. May we all live with the joy, love and courage that Joanie exuded each day.

Thank you for all you do for our community, including each of the 1,000 consumers we serve and those who care for them – families, friends and staff alike.


Gavin Kerr
President and Chief Executive Officer

P.S. Do you have an Inglis story to share? If so, please contact me at the email address above.