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Matheny's President To Leave Post After 16 Years

Steve Proctor of the the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack said he is optimistic about the future of the developmentally disabled individuals in the hospital's care.
Steve Proctor of the the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack said he is optimistic about the future of the developmentally disabled individuals in the hospital's care.
Steven Proctor, who has been president and CEO of the Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack for almost 16 years, announced Thursday that he will retire when his replacement is named. 

Proctor has spent his time strengthening the services at Matheny, a specialized hospital for developmentally disabled children and adults, establishing a medical and dental center accessible to the disabled community outside its doors, and trailblazing a unique arts program emulated by other centers. But he's turning 72. "It's time for new leadership," he said.

Leaving the Matheny family won't be easy for Proctor, who chose this career, and the one before it with the Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey for 23 years, from a keen sense it was God's purpose for him. "You do become emotionally very attached to the families and the individuals," he said from his office on Thursday. The people Matheny serves may have behaviors or disfigurements that make some uncomfortable."But once you look past that, you realize these are human beings with needs, and that they are so vulnerable."

Proctor said he feels optimistic about the future for Matheny, which is working with the state on a five year plan for growth. "Not in Peapack!" he quickly added, laughing, a reference to the contentious fight to expand that did not end in Matheny's favor. 

"We are looking at growing our options in the community," he said. One way could be through placing Matheny's adults off campus and into appropriately located small group homes, where they can have the opportunity to socialize in the community, in schools or church.

Integration is the movement that is inspiring changes at Matheny. The Community Advisory Board is brainstorming ways the hospital can find new connections with people outside its doors. One idea that arose out of the discussions was the exciting invitation by a restaurant owner to give Matheny residents cooking lessons in his large kitchen. Another was the realization that the hospital could offer its medical resources to give flu shots to first responders, or conduct health screenings for children in town. 

Matheny's special population typically has one diagnosis -- say for cerebral palsy -- but is also dealing with 10 or more chronic conditions. Matheny is endeavoring to share its expertise in the care of medically fragile developmentally-disabled adults with its partners in the state. Proctor said, "We have to teach them a lot more."

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