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Going the Distance: Hamaspik Installs 80’ Accessibility Ramp for Rockland Resident

September 2, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Rockland County Agency Staff Throw in Extra Measure of Attention to Detail, Literally

Hamaspik used to provide more outdoor VPLs [vertical platform lifts—ed.], but the Dept. of Health has not been recommending them of late because they tend to break down quickly, explains Zalman Stein. 

For the same reasons of high maintenance, the agency has not been recommending them of late, either, he adds with a smile.

But after the completion of his most recent project, he’s not the only one smiling.

Right at home on the job

Mr. Stein, a rollicking jack-of-all-trades who’s served as Hamaspik of Rockland County’s Development Coordinator since the summer of 2010, is usually seen around the office with a tool in one hand, on a ladder, or a writing instrument between his lips, and not-infrequently all three.

And that’s when he’s on site.

When he’s not, you’ll find him as far north as Putnam County, which is served by more than one Hamaspik program, or right in Hamaspik of Rockland County’s backyard which, most recently, meant getting Hamaspik’s work done in a Monsey backyard.

The house in question in that suburban Rockland County village, a lovely single-family home belonging to a senior benefiting from Hamaspik’s NHTD program, got a lengthy accessibility ramp installed in its backyard courtesy of one Mr. Zalman Stein and Company.

The Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) program is a Medicaid-funded initiative of the New York State Dept. of Health (DOH) that Hamaspik of Rockland County has offered for years.  It’s slated to transition to a managed-care model in January of 2018.

Under the capable direction of NYU-trained social worker Mrs. Tzivia Frommer, LMSW, and her team of licensed professionals, Hamaspik’s NHTD department sees to it that beneficiaries benefit from the program’s wide-ranging suite of supports in transitioning back to their own homes from nursing homes—or being diverted from entering nursing homes in the first place.

Among those many services are Environmental Modifications (E-Mods), official jargon for interior or exterior home renovations that make living at home possible for people with physical disabilities.  Common E-Mods include walk-in or roll-in showers and, of course, outdoor ramps.

It was one such ramp that Hamaspik of Rockland County’s NHTD program, in the person of Mr. Stein and a hired crew, completed in the backyard of that Monsey home.

Measuring up

“There was a lot of measuring,” says Stein of that particular project, necessitating numerous returns to the worksite to calculate precise details.

Each E-Mods job that Mrs. Frommer (or HamaspikCare, Hamaspik’s growing home-care agency) sends him is unique, with variables requiring a customized solution such that no two are the same.

For example, accessibility ramps to two otherwise identical ground-level front doors will turn out distinctly different because one is flanked by hedges.  Likewise, rendering a restroom fully disability-accessible depends entirely on such factors as square footage and layout.

In the case of the Rockland home, Hamaspik’s Coordinator first consulted with the beneficiary and her agency Service Coordinator, social worker Mrs. Aviva Salamon, MSW.  The three came to an agreement on what the resident most needed—in this case, an entry/exit ramp—and how she’d like it.

By regulation, an accessibility ramp must be built at a 1:12 slope—that is, rising one inch in height for every 12 inches in length.  A 48-inch-high ramp would thus need to be 48 feet long.  What’s more, every 30 feet of slope requires a flat interval.

With the woman’s rear porch some 80 inches from the ground, then, an 80-foot ramp—incorporating at least two flat “rest stops”—would need to be constructed.  The lady also didn’t want the gargantuan ramp to overpower her lovely large backyard.  Mr. Stein got to work.

The standard E-Mods process was deployed.  After a site inspection and summarization of requirements, several contractors were solicited.  One agreed to the job within budget.  The required disability consultant reviewed the site and plans and signed off. 

Actual work began the morning of Thursday, September 8.  It ended the next afternoon—putting 80 feet of sturdy aluminum, railings, supports and all, in place in under 48 hours.

Making happy happen

The ramp itself is a study in engineering and measuring, down to the very last inch.

Planned painstakingly to minimize footprint and maximize aesthetics, the entryway features four straightaways along the rear and side of the house and incorporates four rest platforms and three turns.  Tucked away behind the house, it neatly skirts, and complements, an existing large porch.

To get it in just like so, Mr. Stein even had to remove a small tree from its path, doing so at no extra cost.

An asphalt incline, laid down immediately after the ramp was installed, comes seamlessly up from the ground to the ramp’s bottom edge, allowing wheelchairs to smoothly glide on and off.

Because children and grandchildren are regularly present at the home, and because the ramp rises past 30 inches, fence-like aluminum pickets to close the railing’s open spaces were added.  The additions lend elegance along with necessary safety, coupling legality with presentability.

With the disability consultant’s post-job sign-off, the ramp was officially ready to roll.

The family “couldn’t be happier,” reports Stein.  “They are thrilled with the ramp and are so grateful!” adds Mrs. Frommer after speaking with them—with the family now reporting that taking their beloved matriarch to the doctor is a “mechayeh” (Yiddish for “pleasure”).

And for the Development Coordinator, it’s not just another job, and another day on the job, but a personal pleasure in getting a job done right.

“Here, look,” he says, pulling up photos of another Hamaspik home renovation on his computer screen, waxing excited.  “We did a walk-in shower for him.  Look at the drain.  The floor is pitched so it flows…”