Photo courtesy of St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children
The world was at war in December 1944 when St. Mary’s Infant Home opened in a renovated century-old building to care for abandoned and orphaned children in Norfolk. The Home has been growing and changing ever since.
In 2010, St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children celebrated 65 years of caring for children – of cherishing each young person who comes here as an individual to be respected, listened to and loved. For many years, nuns from the Roman Catholic religious order the Daughters of Wisdom managed the Home, and by the 1950s, St. Mary’s had already begun to evolve by caring for children with disabilities. In the next decade, St. Mary’s built and moved into a 50-bed nursing facility specializing in residential care for children with more severe intellectual disabilities at a time when there weren’t many such places.
By the 1980s, the Home had evolved into the place it is today: a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization that provides expert around-the-clock care for children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. Through the years, the number of children that St. Mary’s cares for has grown, from a dozen to as many as 92. The age limit has grown as well, from 6 years to 21. And now, after more than six decades of helping children, St. Mary’s is getting ready to help adults as well. On Sept. 15, 2011, St. Mary’s Home broke ground on The Albero House, a wing at St. Mary’s that will have 12 private room for adults. The expansion is expected to open in 2012.
What The Home Offers
Children and young adults from across Virginia who have severe intellectual and physical disabilities live, play and go to school at St. Mary’s Home. The Home also helps children who need respite, or short-stay care, perhaps because of a family emergency or surgery requiring intensive post-operative physical therapy.
Nursing staff provides professional, 24-hour clinical care, and nearly 20 specialists from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and Eastern Virginia Medical School routinely come to the Home to see the children. The children have regular physical therapy, and occupational therapy staff fit the children for splints to keep their limbs in alignment and customize and maintain their wheelchairs and other equipment. The dietary service department prepares and delivers all meals based on physician-approved diets overseen by a registered dietician. Support coordinators meet with the children, parents or guardians and staff to make sure the children receive appropriate services based on their individual needs.
The children also enjoy many activities both at the Home and in the community, from swimming in St. Mary's therapy pool to taking field trips to the beach, the library or a museum, supervised by the recreational therapy and activities staffs.
For more information, call (757) 622-2208 or (800) 237-6555, or visit www.saintmaryshome.org.