Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Sunday, May 1, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Pacifica Senior Living - Calaroga Terrace

Home : News : Local
Program director nurtures severely handicapped children
Eva Hunter

The upstairs rooms in the Providence Child Center are full of light, and cribs are gaily decorated with mobiles, colored throws and plush stuffed animals.

Ethelyn Pankratz, executive director, pauses by the crib of a six-month-old baby and smoothes the hair on the little girl's forehead. 'How are you today, sweetheart?' she asks.

The baby was born with encephalitis - a condition wherein the brain has formed outside the skull - in this case, a condition so severe that it could not be corrected surgically. In need of 24-hour skilled nursing care, the infant was placed in Providence Child Center's program for severely medically handicapped children. Her life expectancy was only a few months; she already has lived twice that long.

There are 54 children, from three months to 10 years old, in Providence's severely medically handicapped program. Thirteen are here because of severe birth trauma. Six children are here because of accidents, such as nearly drowning or fire, that left them not functioning. Twenty-six children are handicapped by genetic disorders.

And Pankratz knows every child.

Her whole life has been, she says, a preparation for what she is doing now. The mother of four children, now ages 21 to 30, Pankratz grew up in Tennessee and did undergraduate work in English at Maryville College there. But a position at an experimental preschool at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School directed her career for the next 20 years.

Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister famous for the children's television show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, established the preschool with the requirement that it represent the racial and economic diversity of children in the neighborhood it drew from.

In the Pittsburgh neighborhood surrounding the university in those days, that meant black, Oriental and white children from working-class and university families.

'I can't imagine having better tutoring in how to understand children than from Fred Rogers,' Pankratz says.

'The message - whether it was to staff or to the children - was 'I like you as you are' . . . . That's what I've tried to do with children ever since.'

When, in the early 1970s, her husband joined the faculty of the Oregon Health Sciences University, Pankratz and her family came to Portland.

She worked in a preschool program integrating normal children with children with disabilities. She went to work with the Multnomah County Association of Retarded Citizens, beginning in a staff position and finishing as its executive director.

Pankratz became executive director of Providence Child Center in 1989. She appreciated the program's unusual mix of severely handicapped, developmentally delayed and 'normal' children.

It is a natural extension of the helping mission begun by Mother Joseph in the 1800s; Providence Child Center is one of the entities of the Sisters of Providence Corp.

The preschool offers both education for developmentally delayed preschoolers and a Montessori preschool for 'normal' children.

The extraordinary thing, Pankratz says, is that every day the developmentally delayed preschoolers spend part of their time with the Montessori preschoolers. And both groups have grown in sensitivity, she says.

But most of the severely handicapped children on the second floor will not live to adolescence.

Pankratz says that Providence's program is the only facility of its kind providing services to such severely medically handicapped infants and young children.

Providence Child Center is licensed to care for children only up to age 10. After 10, they go into adult foster homes. There is no facility in the state, she says, that specializes in care for these handicapped adolescents.

But the biggest challenge, Pankratz says, is not in finding appropriate placements for these children, but in keeping the children in their own homes.

But there are problems. The care these children require is overwhelming for most families. They may have seizure disorders that require constant supervision. They may need to be turned in their beds every two hours. For the family trying to cope on its own, it is an endless, tiring, thankless job.

Pankratz says that the trend is to develop institutional backup systems for the family that provide appropriate respite - time out for the primary caretakers. And Providence Child Center would like to be at the forefront of those developing and offering the support systems that would allow even severely handicapped children to remain at home with their families.

Pankratz says that this is the focus of a process of strategic planning that the facility is about to begin.

Meanwhile, there are daily reminders of why she is here. She sees a frail little girl, who has lived months beyond medical predictions, look up and give Pankratz her first smile.

She hears a mother talk about how wonderful it was to take her severely handicapped little boy home over Christmas and the joys of waking up and knowing he was there with her.

At these times, Pankratz knows why this struggle is worth continuing day by day.

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved