A Brief History of Parker at McCarrick
(Formerly known as the Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick Care Center)
By Harry Glazer, with assistance from June Schaffer
In 1981 a group of Christian clergy members and business leaders from Middlesex and Somerset counties came together, with the support of St. Peter’s Medical Center in New Brunswick, to begin the work to establish a nursing home to serve seniors in the area.
Leaders of St. Peter’s Medical Center and the home’s board of trustees saw a clear need, noting in a Medical Center newsletter that hospital admissions of the frail elderly accounted for 20% of all admissions nationwide, there were only 1,200 elderly care beds within a 10 mile radius of New Brunswick, and most senior care facilities had waiting lists. The newsletter also noted that “the New Jersey Department of Health estimates that (in the next few years) Middlesex County will need 560 more beds for care of the elderly than exist now.”
The initial certificate of incorporation filed with the state of New Jersey identified the new entity as the Vienney Convalescent and Day Care Center, Inc. The home was renamed by the board of trustees in 1986 to the Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick Care Center to honor the mother of Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen. The Archbishop participated in the official groundbreaking for the home in July 1986, very shortly before assuming his new post as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.
The home’s first administrator was Dorothea Miller, R.N., L.N.H.A., who saw the home through all its initial planning and construction. She envisioned a home “where there will be a devotion to providing the aging with warm, loving, people to people caring.”
The home officially opened in January 1988, with 30 beds initially approved by the New Jersey Department of Health and additional increments of 30 beds approved in the months that followed. The home was certified to receive Medicare/Medicaid billing upon opening. The Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick Care Center was ready for full occupancy by the middle of 1989 and all beds were filled by the end of that year.
Dorothea Miller left the home to pursue other challenges in 1988, and after a brief stint by an acting administrator, Jim Caron was hired as the new administrator. Jim served in this role for 23 years, retiring in 2011. He was very well-regarded by staff for his compassion and warmth towards employees and the cooperative, ‘family-feel’ environment that he fostered in the home.
After Jim’s retirement, the home ‘borrowed’ an interim administrator, Gloria Zayanskosky, from
Parker at River Road in Piscataway. Gloria served in this role for 18 months and in November 2013 James Zauner was hired as the new administrator; he continues to serve in this role today.
The Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick Care Center has established a strong reputation in the community for providing compassionate care for the elderly and for treating its staff with fairness and decency. One of the measures that demonstrates McCarrick’s great reputation is the duration of service of many of its staff such as Business Office Supervisor June Schaffer (1988-present), Facilities Support Manager Maria Campilonga (1989-present), Director of Recreation Angie Tirso (1989-present), Assistant Director of Nursing Irene Wiechetek (started 1987, retired in 2013), Social Worker Anne Gumbinger (started 1987, retired 2014), CNA Maria Light (1988-present), CNA Dawana Daniells (1988-present), Lead Cook Dorothy Guy (1990-present), Cook Karen Spencer (1990-present), and CNA Sharon Andrews (1990-present).
The Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick Care Center is also proud of its continuing affiliation with and adherence to the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. McCarrick offers Roman Catholic Mass for residents and staff at 11:00 am, Sunday through Thursday. McCarrick also has a Roman Catholic Chaplain on staff, who addresses the spiritual needs of residents. Father Andrew Nisari currently serves in that role and he was preceded in that role by Father Maurice Carlton (at McCarrick 1989-2000), Father Joseph Thul (at McCarrick 2000-2005), and Father Tom Ganley (at McCarrick 2005-2015).
In February 2016, after a long “courtship,” the Francis E. Parker Memorial Home acquired the Margaret McLaughlin McCarrick Care Center from the St. Peter’s Healthcare System and renamed it Parker at McCarrick. The leaders of Parker are honoring the traditions of McCarrick and building on its many strengths, to provide greater service to those in its care.