The Incarnation Children’s Center (ICC) is New York City’s only skilled nursing facility exclusively offering HIV specialized care in a nurturing environment to children living with HIV/AIDS. ICC’s unique combination of expertise and support provides the child and his/her family with interdisciplinary services designed to meet the challenges of living with HIV/AIDS and to minimize its effects on the quality of their life. We are dedicated to serving as advocates for these infants, children and adolescents in all matters pertaining to their health care. ICC is an internationally recognized model of first-rate comprehensive and interdisciplinary care and treatment, and is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization affiliated with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
In the mid-1980’s, large numbers of children with HIV/AIDS were abandoned, orphaned, or removed from their parents because of drug use, neglect or abuse. The foster care system was unable to find foster parents willing to care for all of these children. As a result, these “boarder babies,” who had nowhere else to live, languished for months, even years on New York City’s hospital wards.
In response to the needs of these children, the Incarnation Children’s Center (ICC) was created. In 1988, a four-story, red brick, former convent in upper Manhattan was converted into a homelike residence for twenty-four HIV positive children. ICC was dubbed “the Ellis Island” for homeless children with AIDS. During the program’s first three years, two-thirds of New York City’s AIDS boarder babies were discharged from hospital wards to the home-like environment of ICC. By 1991, there was a surplus of foster parents for all but the sickest children. New York City’s “AIDS boarder baby crisis” had ended and ICC had played a pivotal role in this success story.
ICC then turned it’s attention to the plight of those children with AIDS who were too sick to live at home, but not sick enough to require hospitalization. Having learned that very ill children often improved dramatically with proper nurturing and high-quality medical and nursing care, ICC pioneered the concept of comprehensive care for them by attending to psychosocial and mental health needs in addition to superb medical and nursing care. Many children presumed terminally ill improved clinically and returned to a home setting. For other children, ICC remained a sanctuary full of love.
Now, the current greatest need amongst our referrals of school age children and teenagers is for assistance in adhering to life-giving but chronic multi-dose medication regimens. In 2000, ICC became licensed by the New York State Department of Health as a Skilled Nursing Facility. The number of children we serve in a year depends on our current population’s needs. The residents range in age from birth to twenty-one years of and come from all five boroughs boroughs of New York City and surrounding counties.
We see a child’s placement at ICC as a multifaceted treatment opportunity. The child has been referred generally for medical treatment, yet there are invariably a host of educational, psychological and social needs that are just under the surface of these referrals.
Our team’s approach is interdisciplinary, family oriented and community focused. That is, our team works not just with the child, but also with the family and the various clinics and agencies supporting the family. We strive to provide a therapeutic community within the treatment milieu. Each discipline has specific treatment expertise which we bring together to provide an individualized and integrated comprehensive treatment plan.
We believe that, in ideal circumstances, every child should be healthy, live at home, and be surrounded by a loving family. However, some HIV-infected children are chronically ill and are too sick sick to be at home, or they have care needs needs that are too complex to be provided adequately in a home setting. For children who need the services of Incarnation Children’s Center, we acknowledge that we are not an adequate replacement for a child’s home or family. However, we pledge the following:
- To provide a nurturing, home-like setting that provides first-rate care, filled with love and compassion, designed to give each child a longer and better life.
- To be ever- mindful of the effects, on child and family alike, that admission to ICC may cause and to do all we can to ensure a positive experience.
- To make every effort to improve each child’s health to allow the earliest possible discharge back to a home setting.
- HIV-Specialized Pediatric Care
- 24 Hour Nursing Services
- Dietary and Nutritional Services
- Directly Observed Therapy
- Assistance with Medication Adherence
- Coordination of Special Education Services
- Counseling Services
- Case Management
- School and Camp Placement
- Life Skills Training
- Discharge Planning
- Individual and Group Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech Therapy
Therapeutic Recreation Services
- Recreation Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Animal Assisted Therapy
- Off-site outings
- Activity groups