by Joseph RADDER
When Ed Weeks was growing up in Lockport in the 1940s he had no clue that some day he
would be recognized nationally for his health care innovations.
His parents had migrated from Long Island to Lockport during the depression. They
didnt want to leave their beloved Bay Shore but they had no choice. Jobs were few
and far between in those depression years, and if Eds Dad wanted to keep his job he
had to move to Western New York.
Eds annual summer highlight in those days was to return to Bay Shore and Sag
Harbor where he could go clamming, fishing and boating. And he did just that every summer
during World War II. Fortunately, his grandparents still lived there and they welcomed him
and his brothers and sisters with open arms as soon as the school year ended.
I had an absolute ball there, Ed Weeks recalls. And learning how to open
clams and put on a clambake served him well in later years. Clambakes were not an
every day occurrence in Western New York in those days. In fact, they arent a big
thing even today. I was happy that my parents brought this grand Long Island tradition
with them and taught me.
One lasting unpleasant childhood memory concerns his dog, Sparky, who came with him
after one summer in Long Island. Sparky was killed while chasing cars. It was Eds
first real loss of something close to him. However, mostly all of his other childhood
memories are happy ones.
While I was a Western New Yorker by birth, says Weeks, My father
never lost his Long Island attachment or his twang. This was most evident in
the way he pronounced certain words ... poisson for person, oil was
erl and coins were kerns.
When it came time to go to college, Ed decided to stay in the Buffalo area and was
accepted at UB, where he majored in physical therapy with a minor in psychology. These two
disciplines in combination would serve him well in later life in his work with the
Eds best college memories center on his short-lived career as a football player,
which ended when he tore cartilage in his leg. He then discovered the less strenuous but
very rewarding arena of extra-curricular student activities. This new-found interest
eventually led to his becoming the Managing Editor of the student newspaper, the UB
I never was a scholar, Weeks admits, but who says C students
dont make it?
After graduating from UB in 1957, Ed found employment as a substitute teacher in the
Buffalo School system. He soon inherited a class at School 29 in South Buffaloand
taught that class for almost a full year. What did this experience teach you?
we asked. Without hesitation he answered It taught me I should never be a full time
Ed married Margaret M. Reddington in February 1958. They had met in the summer of 1956.
After the year of teaching, Ed took a temporary job as a graphic artist at the Colad
Company, a book cover manufacturer, where his wife worked in the office. He was awaiting
the inevitable letter from the Selective Service System. The letter arrived in September
1958 and he was promptly inducted into the U.S. Army.
During his two year hitch in the Army, he wanted to use his college training as a
physical therapist. But, as the Army is wont to do, they sent him to Ft. Hood, Texas, an
infantry base. There, while on maneuvers, he learned how to sleep on the cold steel floor
of an armored personnel carrier (to avoid the snakes and other crawling creatures on the
Weeks did well on the rifle range and so, after basic training, he was sent to Munich,
Germany, as a sniper.
I wrote letters to the authorities asking to be reassigned, without any results.
Finally, I went to my Commanding Officer and said: Here I am with a college degree in
physical therapy and Im assigned as a sniper. Does that make sense? It worked
and soon Ed found himself at the 98th General Hospital in Neubrucke Germany, reassigned as
a physical therapist. This was the beginning of a 40-year career caring for others.
In those days, the Army allowed families to live with their servicemen overseas, and so
Mrs. Weeks came over. Their first son, Sean, was born in Neubrucke. As a result, he has
During his stint in Germany, Ed Weeks achieved the rank of Specialist 4. He was
assigned to the hospital Burn Center and later published a paper on the use of physical
therapy in burn treatment.
After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1960, Ed became a physical therapist at
Mercy Hospital. During the evening he worked at St. Josephs Inter-Community
Hospital. Subsequently, he left Mercy Hospital and went to work at the Niagara Lutheran
Nursing Home, where he established a physical therapy department. It was here that he had
his first close-up experience with death. A patient collapsed while practicing stair
climbing. He died in my arms.
There were also many pleasant experiences. It was here that he got the idea to use an
Army parachute harness to help stroke patients stand upright. Many of the patients who
used this device had not been in a vertical position for a long, long time. They were
thrilled to be able to stand up, even with this unique assistance.
At Niagara Lutheran Nursing Home in the early 60s, Ed invented a way to help stroke patients stand upright, using an Army parachute harness.
In 1961 the Niagara Lutheran Nursing Home persuaded him to come with them on a full
time basis as assistant administrator. After three years at Niagara Lutheran, he accepted
an offer to be administrator of the Carlton Nursing Home.
He stayed at Carlton until 1975, when he was asked to try to help a nursing home in
Niagara County get out of trouble. They had a number of serious deficiencies. It
took us 18 months, Weeks said but we did indeed turn it around.
Having achieved stability for the facility, Weeks returned to Buffalo in 1976 to become
administrator of the Episcopal Church Home on Rhode Island Street. It wasnt long
before the board named him executive director.
Here he directed the newly opened residential health care facility and successfully
guided it through its early development. He also oversaw the adult care facility, which
was established in 1858. He was instrumental in merging the Church Home and Brent Manor,
creating the beginning of Episcopal Community Housing Inc.
Ed Weeks, his daughter Patricia Weeks OConnor and Mason Bowen, a founder of Episcopal Community Housing Inc., at a NYAHSA meeting.
Now President and CEO, Ed Weeks put his talent for innovation on a fast track. In 1977
he established the first respite program in Western New York. This is a program designed
to give family caregivers a break. Patients spend two or more weeks at the Episcopal
Church Home while the caregivers enjoy a much-needed respite.
The following year the home established the first long-term home health care program in
New York State ... A nursing home without walls. Under this program nurses,
home health care aides and other health professionals visit patients in their homes once
or twice a week, more often if necessary, and for as long as is necessary to provide basic
nursing services. This program currently serves over 300 people in Erie County.
In 1981 the Episcopal Church Home, under Ed Weeks direction, established the
first adult day health care program in Erie County. This program allows patients to live
at home, and come in on an outpatient basis.Transportation is also provided.
Until l987 it was common practice for nursing homes to restrain patients who were
experiencing behavioral problems or deteriorating mental capacity. Ed Weeks heard of a
program where patients could be free of restraints, kept in their chairs by positioning.
They found that a patient in a chair tipped back slightly could not get out of the chair
without help. In other words, gravity did the job formerly done by restraints and the
Episcopal Church Home, as reported in the New York Times, became the first restraint-free
nursing home in New York State.
Another first, a year or two later, was the Intergenerational Child Care
Centeragain the first in Western New York. This started with infants and
pre-schoolers, primarily employees children. Its unique feature is that time is set
aside for the children to interact with the elderly residents. The young and old
have a large capacity for love, Weeks says. Put the widely separated
generations together and that love is manifest.
Weeks tells a heart-warming story about a loving incident of role reversal in this
program. One time, prior to Easter, the children and the nursing home residents were
coloring eggs together. One of the elderly residents picked up a glass of purple egg dye,
thinking it was grape juice. Before she could drink it the little girl who was with
her stopped her saying No! No! You mustnt drink that!
In 1990, the home care program was expanded to include patients with HIV/AIDS. This was
the period when AIDS had reached epidemic proportions. The Episcopal Church Home nurses
were providing home care to 70 or 80 AIDS patients at that time. Today the number is down
to 30 or 40 thanks to national advances in medication and therapy.
Ed Weeks most recent and perhaps greatest idea was his dream to build a complete
life care community ... a facility wherein the elderly could enjoy independent living and,
if needed later, asssisted living and skilled nursing care ... all on one campus.
The original idea was to build a high-rise building adjacent to the Episcopal Church
Home on Rhode Island Street. However, a feasibility study brought out the fact that while
possible, this land-locked site was not as suitable as were other locations. Instead, the
consultants recommended Amherst as an ideal location and found a beautiful 64 acre site
... the Jurek tree farm ... the perfect setting for a series of low-rise buildings.
After lengthy negotiation, the land was purchased and planning got underway for what is
now the beautiful facility known as Canterbury Woods. Award-winning architects were
selected, financing was obtained with ECIDA bonds, and an intensive marketing program was
launched to carry the message to potential residents.
Ed Weeks and a scale model of Canterbury Woods.
Today, Canterbury Woods stands as living proof of Ed Weeks creativity and
dedication. Now home to several hundred seniors, Canterbury Woods offers one and two
bedroom apartment homes, each with a fully-equipped kitchen and bath, carpeting, washer
and dryer, window treatments, and spacious closets. There are three dining areas where
meals prepared by world-class chefs are served. Ed Weeks is very proud of the food at
Canterbury Woods. Weve cornered the market on lamb chops he said.
Other amenities include a pool, exercise room, and a putting green.
On the same campus is Oxford Village with enriched (assisted) living apartments and
skilled nursing suites.
Left: Al Caffiero, one of Western New Yorks pre-eminent Physical Therapists. Right: Ed Weeks, one of Caffieros best friends.
The resident never has to worry about costs because lifetime care is included in the
one-time entrance fee. That fee is 90% refundable, protecting the residents estate.
Canterbury Woods newest brochure reads Fulfillment is the philosophy behind
Canterbury Woods exciting and special lifestyle. Here smiling comes easy and
laughing comes naturally.
Its no wonder that Ed Weeks has received many awards and honors including the
Lawrence E. Larson award, the highest honor awarded by the New York State Association of
Homes and Services to the Aging.
Eds family in Lockport, his wife Alana and nine children (four from his first
marriage and five stepchildren) as well as his four grandchildren, are indeed proud of
him. Western New York can be proud and pleased as well that Ed Weeks chose to stay here
and contribute so much to our lifestyles.
Ed and his wife, Alana, line dancing.
Joseph Radder is a freelance writer.
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