Who’s Who in New Jersey Long Term Care Centers
Cheshire Home’s John Daniel Fletcher
In 1976, John, who goes by the name Dan, was driving when involved in a horrendous motor vehicle accident with a Mack truck. It took rescue workers a long time to extricate Dan from his vehicle. Sadly, his fiancée did not survive.
Dan sustained injuries including fractures to his arms, legs, and pelvis. The most severe injury was to his brain stem. At the age of 25, Dan’s life would change forever.
Dan graduated from Blair Academy in Blairstown and, at the time of the accident, attended Bucknell University where he honed his skills as a classically-trained pianist. The accident took away his ability to play the piano and the loss of vision caused by the accident curtailed his love of reading. His life at Bucknell would abruptly end.
These crippling injuries might prove insurmountable to even the most determined person. But Dan faced the challenges of relearning even the most basic tasks and met them head-on. He not only persevered but he excelled. His love of sports and athletic prowess in football and wrestling has kept Dan in the game both mentally and physically.
Dan came to Cheshire Home in Florham Park in 1983. He decided he wanted to be with people and learn to live again. Cheshire Home provided an environment in which he could improve his speech and excel in therapy. He needed to exercise his brain and improve his vision to the greatest extent possible. It was a long tedious battle, but with laser focus, he moved forward.
After 39 years at Cheshire Home, Dan remains as motivated as when he first arrived. Although wheelchair-bound, Dan has tremendous upper body strength and a vise-like grip.
Despite being the center’s oldest resident, he exercises seven days a week. In PT, Dan can be seen doing mat training, riding a bike, or walking with assistance for hours. As part of his “never give up” attitude, after physical therapy and when most people would relax, Dan will do 300 sit-ups and hours of laps in his wheelchair around the facility: twice a day!
Despite the many challenges and adversity, Dan has faced, he has succeeded. His motivation and drive are an inspiration to all. As if he was speaking about Dan specifically, Dr. King, Jr. asserted that “If you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but never stop moving forward.” Daniel Fletcher is the epitome of that sentiment.
“Cheshire Home Day” Named as Executive Director Earns Eli Pick Award
The residents, staff and Board of Cheshire Home, Morris County’s specialized nursing care facility for young adults with spinal cord injuries, congratulates Executive Director, George Zeitler, on receiving the 2022 Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award from the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA). In honor of the award, Florham Park Mayor, Mark Taylor, has named April 22, “Cheshire Home Day.”
The ACHCA award states, “based on the premise that facility excellence reflects leadership excellence, this award recognizes George Zeitler for providing leadership for the entire 2021 calendar year.” Only 3% of facilities nationwide met the initial selection criteria.
George, who has been at Cheshire Home for over 30 years, successfully navigated the facility through the ups and downs of Covid, carefully orchestrating policies that fit with the state’s guidelines and the needs of residents and their families.
Mayor Taylor’s proclamation announcing Cheshire Home Day stated, “With George’s leadership, he’s been able to not only guide the nonprofit organization through several phases but has successfully built a team of dedicated staff who have devoted their lives to helping the residents through rehabilitation and getting back to living an independent lifestyle again.”
The proclamation continues, stating that many of the administrative and nursing staff have been with Cheshire for over 15 years, while others have
worked at Cheshire Home with George for over 25 years. Naming April 22, as Cheshire Home Day, is a way the Mayor and the town of Florham Park can honor George, his longtime commitment to the organization and acknowledge that Cheshire Home “shines through because of its exemplary leadership from George.”
“It’s quite an honor. Cheshire Home is a great place to work. I wouldn’t have been here this long if it wasn’t,” George said after receiving the Proclamation from Mayor Taylor. “And it’s especially easy with a very supportive board,” George continued.
George thanked his family, members of the board, staff and residents in attendance and the celebration continued with ice cream from Delicious Ice Cream, an old-fashioned style turquoise truck and special happy hour food on a beautiful spring day. In total, over 100 people were in attendance.
Being a small, but unique facility, that provides a home for young adults with spinal cord injuries as they reclaim their maximum level of independence, Cheshire Home is excited to be recognized by the ACHCA. To celebrate, the Board of Trustees donated a sign to commemorate the award and held an ice cream party for all the residents, and the entire staff to enjoy.
Congratulations George and Cheshire Home for being named a 2022 Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award Recipient!
The Rosen Family share their SCI story at Cheshire Home Circle of Friends Roundtable
At a recent Cheshire Home Circle of Friends Roundtable, Neil and his parents, Eileen and Elliot Rosen, shared the tragic events that led to Neil’s spinal cord injury (SCI), as well as the triumphs he has achieved since the accident.
Neil shared that prior to his injury he had a charmed life. He had just graduated college, had a great job, was loving life, but by his own admission, living dangerously. Neil shared with the group that his injury was caused after being involved in a one car accident that occurred while he was driving under the influence.
Eileen and Elliot discussed what the initial hours were like after they found out about Neil’s accident. They were in Vermont at their summer home when they heard a series of sirens in the near distance, police, ambulance and EMTs racing to an accident somewhere not too far from their home. Having a premonition, Eileen got in her car and followed the direction of the sirens to find out that it was in fact Neil who was involved in the accident. He had been taken to a local hospital, but due to the severity of his injury, he was airlifted to a trauma center in Albany, NY, closer to their main home in Saratoga, NY.
When they arrived at the hospital, they didn’t know the extent of Neil’s injuries. “It took a long time to deal with the severity of the accident,” Eileen said. After spending several months in the hospital, Neil was moved to Kessler in West Orange, NJ to begin the second phase of his recovery. After spending under a month at Kessler, the Rosen’s were asked what the next steps were for Neil.
When the Rosen’s asked what their options were they were told one option was to take Neil home. “We couldn’t do for many, many reasons,” Eileen said, as is the case for most families of individuals with SCIs. Another option was to put Neil in a nursing home. “I couldn’t do that to a 23-year-old,” she continued, stating she was worried he would never even be gotten out of bed.
The Rosen’s were introduced to Cheshire Home as an alternative to a geriatric facility. Neil was a perfect candidate for Cheshire Home and when a bed became available, Neil moved in. The Rosen’s were excited for everything it had to offer.
“We were not able to find anything like Cheshire in New York state,” Elliot said referring to how unique Cheshire Home is. “There isn’t anything that can compare,” Eileen added. They found the support they received at Cheshire Home comforting.
“It’s hard to deal with waiting for a bed when you are in this situation,” Elliot said. Knowing that Neil would soon be admitted to Cheshire Home where he would begin his journey towards independence gave the Rosen’s hope.
Cheshire Home Director of Admissions, Dr. Althea David, stated that families are asked to make important decisions while juggling a very emotional time. She stated that Cheshire Home has decades of expertise in the care of individuals with spinal cord and neurological injuries.
“It is important to have family support,” Dr. David said. “Their attitude and their thoughts about the future – their ability to see the future, financial resources, their medical condition all play a crucial role in their recovery,” Dr. David said. Cheshire Home offers a positive support team that encompasses the resident’s entire journey.
Neil admitted his first days at Cheshire Home were scary. He was new to being in a wheelchair and he isolated by staying in his room. The Recreation Department was instrumental in getting Neil to socialize and take part in activities. It wasn’t too long before Neil found his bearings and his dad called him “the mayor of Cheshire.” After spending four years at Cheshire Home, Neil has move into the community where he lives in Madison, NJ where he can be seen navigating the sidewalks of the downtown.
Eileen and Elliot Rosen will always consider Cheshire Home an instrumental part of Neil’s recovery. They expressed how grateful they are to Cheshire Home for all the support they received. “We were so blessed and fortunate that is worked out for Neil.” Elliot said. “You have to take it one day at a time and every day got a little better. We are unbelievably happy with the results.”
Cheshire Home’s Circle of Friends’ Roundtable Offered Inspiration and Information About Resilience After Spinal Cord Injury
On November 9, 2021, Cheshire Home hosted Dr. Jeramiah Nieves from Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and Ron Gold, CEO and Co-Founder of LeanOnWe at their Circle of Friends Roundtable Discussion on November 9. The discussion focused on spinal cord injuries (SCI) and the necessity of a community approach to a successful recovery.
Dr. Nieves discussed the relationships formed between patients, doctors and other caregivers and how important those bonds are to recovery. The partnership between Kessler and Cheshire was formed many years ago as many residents arrive at Cheshire by recommendation from Kessler. Dr. Nieves stressed the importance of how having a caring environment during the healing process makes the journey that much easier.
Ron Gold shared his remarkable story, pre and post injury, and discussed how his time spent at Kessler motivated him to give back to the community. Now confined to a wheelchair, he
realized that everyday tasks would now require assistance. Ron saw the need for quality caregivers for individuals, like himself, who were able to recover at home. Ron Co-Founded LeanOnWe to connect caregivers to those in need. For mor information, visit http://www.leanonwe.com.
Cheshire Home Director of Nursing, Madelyn Cerrato, spoke of the great work being done both at Kessler and at Cheshire Home and the cohesive relationship they share. She discussed the expense of caring for an individual with a spinal cord injury and the specialized care they receive at Cheshire.
“Failure can happen when they go home.” Madelyn said referring to SCI patients that go directly home after Kessler. “It’s day-to-day, it [the need for care] doesn’t change. Even a family that’s supportive gets tired.” She noted that relationships “can get lost” when one becomes the primary care giver.
Cheshire Home will continue to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries and the advancements in rehabilitation through discussions like this. For more information on Circle of Friends, this event, or upcoming Circle of Friends events, contact Kim Boyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in the next Circle of Friends discussion? Contact Kim Boyer at email@example.com or 973-476-9520 for more information.