Applause filled the air as a local not-for-profit agency that provides care for children and adults with disabilities broke ground Thursday on a new state-of-the-art health center in Bethpage, giving those who rely on the group hope for expanded services.
The new Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities (ACLD) facility will allow for more integration of medical and behavioral health disciplines, including an outpatient facility and an adult services pavilion. The 22,000 square-foot center will be built on land adjacent to ACLD’s Bethpage headquarters and is slated to open next year.
“This is a moment that makes my mind reel,” said Aaron Liebowitz, executive director of ACLD. “This new center will help with the mission to provide people with developmental disabilities with an enviable life.”
The center will be named the Charles Evans Health Services Center after a $1 million donation was made by the Charles Evans Foundation, a philanthropic organization.
“This is another giant step for people we support,” said Rick Wirth, the ACLD’s assistant executive director for children and health services. “Today we serve over 1,700 people. The new building will allow us to consolidate medical rooms, decrease overcrowded offices and develop more training areas.”
Among those who rely on ACLD is Michael Werner, a 25-year-old man with autism who is currently pursuing an art career and has received numerous awards for his work.
“Michael is an example of our poster child, our archetype, our ideal at ACLD,” said Dr. Richard Kessler, ACLD’s chief medical officer.
The center will be comprised of three areas of service, all named after large donors. The layout allows for two larger waiting areas, a greater number of exam and treatment rooms and four dental suites.
ACLD has been providing services and program to individuals with developmental disabilities on Long Island since 1957. The group has more than 74 different sites Island-wide that provide services including early childhood services, residential alternatives, vocational training and job placement, recreation programs, family support services and Medicaid service coordination.
“This is not only about the facility,” said Don Mitzner, a fundraiser and lead donor who, with his wife, the adult services pavilion is named after. “This is about the importance of services that will be provided to disabled individuals. This is very important to people’s lives.”
For more information about ACLD visit: www.acld.org