The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on patients in extended care facilities, and the veterans in the Community Living Center (CLC) at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center are no exception.
As the CLC is in the “high risk” category, it falls under the “No Visitor” mandate creating an even greater challenge. So, in an effort to connect veterans, their families and the community during this time, the staff at the CLC have been holding parades for their patients, allowing them to be outside and maintain an acceptable distance from well-wishers.
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, the third of an eventual four parades was held for the enjoyment of these hospitalized veterans.
Taking part in the Halloween parade on Wednesday, at the invitation of the Chillicothe VMAC, was Community Care Hospice based in Wilmington and Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County.
Jodi Howard, volunteer coordinator for both locations, who organized the trip to Chillicothe and among many other volunteer programs and projects, is responsible for overseeing the “American Pride” veteran-to-veteran program which pairs trained veteran volunteers with veterans enrolled in Hospice Care.
The volunteers visit the veteran patient at home, the hospital, extended care facility or wherever they may be to spend time talking with, thanking him/her for their service to the country and presenting them with tokens of gratitude and appreciation.
These veteran volunteers have an overriding “mission” on each and every visit: “Restore any lost dignity to an American hero at end of life.”
The “mission” on Oct. 7 was simple — put a smile on patients’ faces. This led to clown outfits and bubbles flying freely from the back of a big red pick-up.
The final CLC parades will be held on Nov. 3 and 4 beginning at 3 p.m.
Anyone wishing to decorate their vehicle and participate can do so by going to the Chillicothe VAMC, 17273 OH 104, Chillicothe, and lining up in the Chillicothe Paints’ parking lot (next to the ballpark) by 2:30 p.m. either day.
Both Community Care Hospice and Hospice of Fayette County are not-for-profit organizations that depend on volunteers and tax-deductible donations to supplement federal Medicare funds, in order to assist as many patients and their families as possible, when dealing with end of life and the various issues that accompany it.
Veterans not enrolled in the VA healthcare system are encouraged to visit www.chillicothe.va.gov/Enrollment.asp to register or call 740-772-7170 with questions.