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People With Disabilities

The Cardinal Hayes Home: Caring for the Medically Fragile During COVID-19

“Our staff has been exemplary.” That is what Mary Sontheimer, executive director of Cardinal Hayes Home asserted when I asked how they were holding up under Covid-19. As an organization, Cardinal Hayes Home for Children, has temporarily stopped taking new admissions, and for good reason.

The Cardinal Hayes Home in Millbrook, New York, serves the needs of 119 disabled children and their families. It provides residential care and treatment for ambulatory and non-ambulatory young people who are developmentally disabled, severely physically disabled, and medically fragile. Some have a diagnosis of autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy or other neurological impairment.

Sponsored by Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and a member of Catholic Charities New York’s Federation of Agencies, children of all backgrounds and creeds make up the residents of the Home. The staff of dedicated nursing and direct care professionals, provide round-the clock care for the residents. 

The reason new admissions have paused for the time being is because CDC guidelines indicate that disabled persons are at higher than normal risk for complications from the Coronavirus. Pausing admissions is the responsible thing to do. But pausing admissions doesn’t mean pausing help.

“We have ongoing communication with the families of the individuals we serve,” Sontheimer said. “Our school is being creative while continuing to deliver educational services, including virtual lessons and delivery of academic packets.” Furthermore, the intake and clinical teams who serve the residents and students are also performing outreach and support to potential new admissions who are currently ‘on hold’, which will continue until new enrollment is safe for all.


Access to the homes that make up the Cardinal Hayes Home are limited in accordance with the guidelines set by government and the regulatory agencies that oversee them. And while day trips and community gathering has been restricted, staff have stepped up to make the learning and care environment as immersive as possible. “They’ve demonstrated our mission in their heroic work – while risking themselves and their families.”

Administering to those in need is an essential service, and as such, the commitment of the staff and professionals at Cardinal Hayes Home should be lauded no less than the rest of America’s brave healthcare staff.


If you need to reach Cardinal Hayes Home for any reason, please call the Main Campus at (845) 677-6363. You can also find their email directory here.