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Lemington Elder Care, 1888
*On the Fourth of July 1883, Lemington Elder Care Services (LECS) began. Located in Pittsburgh, this was one of the first Homes for the Aged and Infirm Colored Women in America. It is the oldest continuously operated home for the aged in the United States.
Its story started in 1877 with Mary Peck Bond, who had discovered that her friend “Aunt Peggy” (a former slave over 100 years old) was alone and living in a damp basement. Bond and her friends secured an apartment for Aunt Peggy; this was the beginning of the historic Lemington Center. From 1877 to 1883, Bond and her friends raised funds to purchase a home that would care for elderly women. LECS was incorporated, opened, and dedicated in public ceremonies with four residents admitted, including Aunt Peggy, that Independence Day.
In 1900 a new 33-bed facility was built on Lemington Avenue in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood and re-named Lemington Home for the Aged. In 1975, Lemington Home for the Aged expanded, caring for the elderly by establishing a senior center funded by the Area Agency on Aging and an innovative inter-generational program bringing children and the elderly together to improve their quality of life. In 1983, the home expanded from a 33-bed home to a 180-bed modern nursing home facility and again re-named Lemington Center.
In 1984, Lemington Center sponsored an 80-unit Housing and Urban Development-funded residential complex for independent senior citizens, Lemington Residential Services d/b/a Eva P. Mitchell Residences. These two facilities, along with The Assisted Living Residence at Lemington, a 32-unit personal care home, and Lemington Community Service Corporation, currently sit on 12 acres, creating a campus providing a panoramic view of the City of Pittsburgh.
In 1999, The Lemington Elder Care Services (LECS) was established as a parent corporation housing all Lemington subsidiaries. In 2003, it opened the Assisted Living Residence at Lemington, a personal care home providing supportive services for 32 individuals in their assisted living residences. With the addition of the assisted living residence, LECS now operates the first African American-sponsored long-term care organization in the country to provide four levels of care on one campus, offering a continuum of care.
Today, Lemington Center continues to serve the elderly community and admits individuals regardless of age, race, religion, sex, national origin, or financial status. Serving primarily the eastern portion of Allegany County, its resident population consists of up to 120 medically complex individuals with diagnoses ranging from cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, aids, and various complications due to drug and alcohol abuse. Support services for 48 individuals include an assisted living facility.
Elder Care serves an average of 130 persons daily in the community service program and approximately 80 families in the residential facility. Dr. Levi Walker, MD, leads the Black medical staff as medical director. Dr. Frank Sessoms, MD., is the associate medical director and supports delivering comprehensive medical care to its resident population. Dr. Robert Edwards, MD., and Dr. Herbert Bazron, MD., all Black physicians, serve at Lemington and support the mission and vision of the organization.
LECS strives to accomplish its vision to be the premier provider of personalized elder care services in an Afro-centric environment. In keeping with that vision, LECS encourages using its programs as training opportunities for various healthcare professionals. Carlow College, school of nursing, the Community College of Allegany County certified nurse aide training program, medical students from the University Of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in rotation with various LECS medical staff, and Robert Morris University Health Administration graduates are just a few examples of the education partnerships that exist.
LECS works to establish and maintain strong relationships with historically Black colleges and/or universities that have gerontology programs. In 2001, Lemington developed, with Dr. Stephen Thomas, director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Minority Health in the School of Public Health, a satellite office of the Center for Minority Health on the grounds of LECS. This is the first facility-based satellite office in the United States focused on aging issues in an African American sponsored organization with multiple levels of care.
LEC, Three Rivers Center for Independent Living
900 Rebecca Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15221-2938
Phone: (412) 371-7700 133
Fax: (412) 371-9430
(Photo, C. "Teenie" Harris)