Dr Arthur Zampella graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine in 1943. He had always had an interest in geriatric care and the elderly. It was his vision to establish a facility where he could practice medicine and serve the needs of an aging population. As a lifelong scholar, my dads interest in this area were reflected in his authorship of many published medical articles, chapters and books on various aspects of aging, care of the elderly, as well as ethical, socio-economic and philosophic discussion in these fields. In an article for the New England Journal of Medicine entitled, “Sampling of the Attitudes of the Aged,” he explored the dilemma of the aging process whereby the elderly are stripped of their social identities when admitted to a nursing home. He felt that a sterile environment, devoid of a homelike atmosphere reduced life expectancy. In many ways, my father was years ahead of his time. Many retirement facilities today, attempt to emulate the surroundings of a private residence.
For many years, my father searched for a location that would be suitable for extended geriatric care. His real estate broker showed him many sterile, cinderblock winged facilities that were devoid of the comforts of home. The broker did not understand that my father was not interested in warehousing the elderly. The broker was hesitant to show Idylease to my father. It was in poor condition. It had remained vacant and boarded up for 11 years. The plumbing was shattered; sitting vacant for many cold winters. Nonetheless, on warm spring afternoon in 1954, the two traveled to Newfoundland from Jersey City. Many years later, my father would tell me that he knew instantly when they pulled into the circular drive; that Idylease the place he had been searching for. Not only did it posses the qualities of a homelike atmosphere, but it had a long and storied history of advances in medical science.
My father was also a strong proponent that social interaction between the young and the old was essential form of therapy for the elderly. Not only could patients benefit from the generational exchange, but the young would also engage with their counterparts. With this in mind, my dad implemented programs with the Boy and Girl Scouts of America and several church youth groups. Many local residents can recall visits to Idylease while growing up to deliver gift baskets, make arts and crafts or simply make new friends with the patients at Idylease.