Beds and Blessings for Cabrini’s Elderly, But Uncertainty For Its Immigrants

CabriniStephen Rex Brown The Cabrini Center.

This week, dozens of residents and employees of the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation will receive bottles of holy water with which to bless their new homes or offices.

The bottles are a parting gift to the 85 remaining residents of the nursing home at Fifth Street and Avenue B who will have to vacate by July 1 so that the building’s new owner, Benjamin Shaoul’s Magnum Realty Group, can go ahead with redevelopment plans.

Last month, Cabrini closed the adult daycare center that it operated on the Lower East Side, which gave nearly 40 seniors and some adults with developmental disabilities a place to eat, socialize and receive medical attention as needed during the day. Lorraine Horgan, a spokesperson for Cabrini, said that those people had been easily transferred to other programs; but a group of board members and employees is still working to ensure that English lessons, weekly food allotments, and legal services remain available to the 16,000 people who use yet another program, Cabrini Immigrant Services, each week.

As The Local reported last month, Cabrini’s board members and employees secured a $25,000 donation from The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and $25,000 from the Stella Mars Province to offset the loss of funding for Cabrini Immigrant Services that will occur when the parent nursing home closes at the end of the month. According to Ms. Horgan, individual donors have chipped in another $22,000. That brings the total to $72,000, but at least another $50,000 is needed to keep the center open through December.

“We’re very concerned,” Ms. Horgan said about their fundraising total. “We’re optimistic, but it’s definitely time-sensitive now, and it’s really all hands on deck needed to make this happen.”

Filings with the state show that the working group charged with raising funds has managed to incorporate the immigrant services center independently, and records show that they requested $12,000 in discretionary funding from Councilmember Margaret S. Chin.

Meanwhile, residents of the Cabrini nursing home and their families are navigating the process of finding new homes. Most of the 85 remaining residents are waiting to move to the Boro Park Center for Nursing and Rehab Center. Boro Park and Cabrini came to an agreement months ago to relocate staff and patients to a Brooklyn facility that is currently being renovated.

“They’re just polishing the floors, and are ready to receive the residents in the next two weeks,” said Ms. Horgan.

With the July 1 deadline looming, Ms. Horgan said she was confident that no one would remain in limbo at the end of the month. Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesperson for the state health department, said, “The department is monitoring operations at Cabrini to ensure that the quality of care is being maintained during the closure process and that patients are being transferred in a safe and orderly manner.”

Meanwhile, staffers hoped the Friday ceremony would be a fitting goodbye for the nursing home’s residents: the holy water is coming from the Golden, Colorado shrine for Mother Cabrini, the founder of the Missionary Sisters who run the nursing home and immigrant services center.

“It’s such a sad time for everyone involved,” said Ms. Horgan. “This is a way of carrying forth the mission of Cabrini on Fifth Street.”