Home is Where the Hope Is
Shepherd Center housing program accommodates families, offers stability day and night.
Shepherd Center’s Delores Ann and Goodloe Yancey Family Housing Program offers much more than four walls and a floor. Its 120 suites and apartments are a resting space for the body and mind, says housing program manager Victoria Denson. She coordinates the housing units at three locations – all complimentary for 30 days to the family members of newly injured Shepherd Center rehabilitation patients if both the patient and family live 60 or more miles from the hospital.
“It’s really an extension of Shepherd Center’s mission to care for the patient,” Denson says of the program. “The families we serve are often overwhelmed when we meet them, so if we can help relieve their worry over where to stay while their family member is a patient here, then that’s an important part of providing complete care.”
One of the families who has benefited from Shepherd Center's housing program is the Clark family from eastern North Carolina. Brad and Rachel Clark, along with their seven children ranging in age at the time of their visit from 1 to 19, occupied a suite at the Irene and George Woodruff Family Residence Center during Brad’s rehabilitation following a spinal cord injury he sustained in a cycling accident.
“It was a really hard time, and Shepherd Center made it as easy on us as they could,” Rachel says. “Our apartment was a two-minute walk from Brad’s room in the hospital, and I can’t tell you how comforting it was to be so close.
“Shepherd Center’s housing program also means families don’t have to break the bank on housing,” she adds. “I can’t even imagine trying to locate housing in the midst of everything else we were going through. To have that level of support is simply priceless.”
That is precisely the purpose of Shepherd Center housing, says Shepherd Center President and CEO Gary Ulicny, Ph.D. It removes the financial and logistical burdens of finding accommodations so families can more easily transition from an acute-care setting elsewhere to rehabilitation at Shepherd Center.
“A big part of serving the patient is supporting the patient’s family,” Dr. Ulicny says. “If we can help lift some of the pressure families feel in an already-stressful situation, then we want to do that for their sake and for the sake of our patients. The housing program is one measure of doing exactly that.”
The value of Shepherd Center’s housing program isn’t lost on families who benefit from it, Denson says. “Families come here, they make friendships, they relax and often they want to show their appreciation in some way,” she says. “Sometimes, they fix things or help water the plants. They want to contribute something, no matter how small, as their way of saying ‘thanks.’”
Shepherd Center offers three locations for family housing:
The Irene and George Woodruff Family Residence Center
- 84 accessible suites located on the Shepherd Center campus. The Irene and George Woodruff Family Residence Center offers fully equipped housing units, whose amenities include free WiFi, a tranquil garden, pool tables, grills, games, toys and DVDs.
- 24 studio apartments one-half mile north of Shepherd Center
- 12 accessible apartments one-quarter mile north of Shepherd Center
Shepherd Center’s Delores Ann and Goodloe Yancey Family Housing program is funded entirely through donations. For information on making a gift to support this invaluable program, please visit shepherd.org/foundation, or call Dean Melcher at (404) 350-7306.
Written by Shawn Reeves
Photos by Louie Favorite
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.