Mary Blue watched the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday morning feeling that a prayer had been answered.
Her 12-year-old granddaughter Tyasia Wilkens can finally come home.
Tyasia's family lives in Central Islip, but she has been living in a home for sick children in New Jersey. Born with arthrogryposis, a disorder causing her to lack working muscles, since birth she has needed specialized 24-hour nursing care, which her family couldn't find on Long Island. Until they learned about Angela's House, a Hauppauge-based nonprofit organization that operates two – soon to be three – 24-hour nursing facilities for sick kids on Long Island.
"It's a blessing. We've been praying for this for a long time," Blue said. "This is our biggest dream. ... I can't really express it."
Angela's House, a Hauppauge-based nonprofit organization for children in need of intensive medical attention, on Monday broke ground on Stony Brook Road in Stony Brook for its third location. Its first two, in East Moriches and Smithtown, opened in 2000 and 2005, respectively. Each facility is home to eight children and is staffed by two nurses. Proximity to was a factor in the choice of location this time around.
"We don't have a physician on staff, so we rely on Stony Brook," founder Bob Policastro said. "The fact that we're so close to them gives everyone a sense of great security. They'll be in a safe environment with 24 hour nursing support."
According to Policastro, the homes are partly funded through the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities, a state agency that supports the general funding and construction of Angela's House. Private donations fund the rest, including purchasing the property and outfitting the house with all the necessary medical technology. Each home, he said, costs about $1 million to set up. The property alone for the Stony Brook location cost $500,000 for about two acres.
The Policastro family founded Angela's House nearly 20 years ago after they found a need for medical care for their medically frail infant daughter Angela. The Policastros say she received excellent care in the hospital but found few local resources outside the hospital that could help them care for her.
Karen and Rob Serva's daughter Caroline, age 2, will live in the Stony Brook home as well. The Serva family lives in Sound Beach and travels to Westchester each time they want to visit Caroline, who is medically fragile and relies on a ventilator.
"It's hard to put into words what this means to us," Karen Serva said. "She'll be at home."