Commission delivered final report to Congress on June 28, 2002
Return to
Home Page
News Archive

Remarks of Mr. Harvey Shankman
Eliza Bryant Center, Cleveland Ohio
September 24, 2001

Thank you very much. It's a real privilege to have an opportunity to meet with all of you and to share some information about Eliza Bryant.

What I would like to do is to give you a little bit of overview. I always have to start with our history, talk a little bit our programs, some of the challenges we face and then maybe come up with one reason why we have had some success.

Eliza Bryant is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It is really the black home of Cleveland and has a rather remarkable history. Eliza Simmons Bryant, the founder, was born in 1827, migrated from North Carolina to Cleveland before the Civil War. We believe she played a role in the Underground Railroad and afterwards became very well known if you were a person of color. And if you were migrating to northeast Ohio, this was typically the family you were referred to.

They helped with shelter and advice and jobs and all kinds of things that were really very necessary at that point in time.

I always like to refer to Eliza Bryant as the original Gray Panther, because first as a woman, as a woman of color and as a woman who was 66 years old, she became very upset. If you were in Cleveland in those days and probably in many other parts of the country, if you were black, nursing homes would not admit you. So, at the age of 66 she went out to do something about it.

She started talking with friends. She talked with the business community and over a period of three years, raised enough interest to actually incorporate our organization, which for it's first 64 years was known as the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People.

I am pleased to say that we have been around now for about 105 years. Our current location, which is the five location we have been in, is located perhaps a half mile from where the original location was, although we have moved a couple times.

Our facility is located in Cleveland in the community known as Huff. Some of you may recall back in the 60s, that was probably the poorest area of Cleveland and where the riots took place. It's a place that has seen a lot of poverty, and as is typical in many city locations, the people that were left there were the old and the poor.

We are very pleased that we believe we are the oldest African American nursing home in the State of Ohio. We believe we may be the second oldest African American nursing home in the country and we believe we may be the only facility of our type that has actually developed a full continuum of care in an inner city.

Presently, we are operating two different nursing homes -- our original, which is Eliza Bryant and about a year ago we became involved in operating a second located also in the inner city. It wasn't so much that we were looking to get bigger and better, but we were trying to rescue another non-profit, which was on the verge of bankruptcy and had it gone bankrupt, its debts would have been lost to the inner city and typically they migrated out to the suburbs, where they would have been more likely to capture private pays and perhaps be helpful to a different part of the community.

We operate an adult daycare program. We have over 100 people that are served in that on an annual basis. On a typical day, we have somewhere between 40 to 50 people who operate or are participating.

We currently are doing a mental retardation, developmentally disabled workshop in our facility. It's something that has been very helpful. It's the only one we are aware of in Cleveland that is doing in the inner city and we are serving about 15 people a day.

We also have a very active transportation program. We try to very efficiently use our vans. We use them in the morning from about 8:00 to 10:00 to pick up people for adult daycare. From about 10:00 to 3:00 they are used for community transportation and then from 3:00 to 5:00 for taking people home.

We have a well senior program. It's been difficult in recent years to operate. As most of you know, funding as disappeared for that, but we do serve about 100 different people. In the summertime we have a community garden that people have enjoyed and almost every day somebody brings me tomatoes, so I am very happy about that.

We have a support group. We for years have tried to get the local Alzheimers association to begin a support group at our facility, however, not many people want to work in the inner city. We had offered the space, we had offered refreshments and all sorts of incentives. It turned out we had to also offer the person to run the group and we have had one running for about five years, but it's worked out very well and we are very pleased about that.

We have been able to develop a nutrition program and in the inner city that is something that is very critical. We have done that through a number of partnerships, but I will mention later.

We have developed a primary health care. They way we did that was go to the local provider for our nursing home. We said in order to keep the contract for providing health care for the nursing home residents, we want you to set up a community clinic. And through negotiations, that finally happened a couple years ago and we now actually have a clinic that is available to any senior in the community.

We have always been very proud of being a training site. We students come through in the med school, nursing programs, social work programs, therapy programs and that has always been something very important to our board to try to get people down to learn more about aging, poverty and health care.

In recent years, we have had some very great success with the HUD 202 program by developing a low rise 60-unit HUH 202 that is connected to our facility.

For years, we wanted to figure out how to provide housing and that was just something that wasn't doable until we learned about the HUD 202 program and we were blessed with getting funded.

More recently, we got funded a second time and we are now trying to find a way to develop some 44 units of cluster housing also on our campus. We are finding that to be a little more difficult because cluster homes are kind of unique and more expensive to build than perhaps a high rise.

Some of the challenges that we have had to face by being in the inner city have to do with the migration of people as they become more affluent, the migration of health care as they either close or move to other areas where funding is better. It's truly been very difficult for poor and for the elderly who are left in the inner city.

Within the nursing home sector, I have mentioned in my notes that it's kind of interesting. Minority elders tend to under-utilize nursing homes. They really truly prefer to remain in the community. They want to stay at home. This is for cultural, this is for financial, this is for proximity issues. But certainly, they like to remain at home and with the community that we serve, we have 5,000 elderly that live within a mile of our building and within three miles, we have 28,000 elderly.

We certainly never expected to serve all of them within our nursing home and we have looked very aggressively at ways we could provide better ways of serving them in the community.

We have had great success with our adult day care program. It took us a while to kind of educate the community what adult day care was. So often when we started, people only thought of it in terms of child daycare, but this has worked out very well.

I have mentioned that transportation -- we could provide a great deal more. Right now, we are probably providing about 40,000 or more miles per year of transportation. That doesn't sound too much until you realize most of our trips are one and two mile trips. We are not going across the town or across the county or across the state.

However, one of the big challenges we have is those vans cost about $45,000 a van. I think that most of the studies that I am aware of that talked about the greatest ability to keep people, older people in the community is the need for transportation. We are challenged every year trying to figure out how to replace our vans as they get up to 100,000 miles or more.

Again, I think that we have had most of our successes -- I will just kind of talk about where we are having our successes -- with some of the partnerships that we have been able to develop.

First of all, I think that because of our longtime history and because we have provided quality service, we have been able to develop some foundations as partners. They have understood the need and they have worked with us and they have encouraged us as we have tried to develop these programs.

We have also developed a partnership with the City of Cleveland and I think they have been sensitive to what we are trying to do and they have assisted us as we have tried to get into new programming and more importantly as we have tried to retain healthcare services in the city. That is not only important for the elderly, but it's also important for people who need jobs. It's also important for the city with payroll taxes.

We note that people prefer to be in nursing homes that are in relative close proximity to where they live. Within the inner city, there are many who don't have cars and for them to go far distances by buses or taxis, just isn't going to happen.

We have had some great successes with our outreach programs with partnerships. Again, I mentioned we have an MRDD program. We were able to develop that with the county and that is providing a service that was never previously available.

Another non-profit agency in the City of Cleveland called Golden Age Center was doing a nutrition program in a high-rise, which really was having very little success. In spite of the fact that 300 people live in the high-rise, there were having difficulty getting 25 people a day to the nutrition program, in part because the high-rise wasn't totally filled, in part because of the fact that the high-rise was mixed with the elderly and people with disabilities, which included drug problems. So, people really didn't feel safe coming down.

We were able to get them to relocate that program to our building where it's now serving 80 people a day and it's much more -- filling a need within the community.

We have also through the Golden Age Center been able to access some of their social service programs, which also help those people who live in our HUD 202. Because of the fact that our building is all connected, using a HUD 202 program, we have been able to develop a service that is more like congregate housing at the cost of HUH 202 housing, because connected to a HUD 202, we have access to transportation, well senior programming, a clinic and also any other service that is available through Eliza Bryant.

I share with you our successes that we have had. I hope it's been helpful to learn a little bit about it. We are continuing to look at new partnerships with other organizations in the future. We don't feel threatened by them, but we feel it's a way for us to expand service to a very needy population.

Thank you.

The page was last modified on October 10, 2001