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Phone calls to area elderly connect them to needed services and support

People of all ages throughout our region have been practicing “social distancing” guidelines at various levels during the current coronavirus outbreak. The most vulnerable population – seniors over age 70 – have been encouraged to “shelter in place.” This often leaves the elderly isolated, possibly without needed services or essentials – from prescription refills to groceries, or even spiritual and emotional support.

Orange City Area Health System is addressing those needs on a personal level, using hospital patient care personnel to reach out to seniors via private, one-to-one phone calls.

“We simply did not want to assume that people’s needs, particularly in this age group, were being met,” explained Marty Guthmiller, CEO of Orange City Area Health System. “The coming together of the availability of our clinical staff, this need, and our mission of caring for the health and well-being of all the people in this region provided the platform to launch this effort.”

With some of the standard medical procedures – including elective surgeries – postponed during the COVID-19 outbreak to conserve personal protective equipment and other supplies, health system staff can be utilized for this outreach program. Patient care personnel, including surgery techs, nurses, radiology techs, and others, are familiar with the potential health and medical needs that seniors might be lacking, and can help discover those needs during a personal phone call.

Monica Aalbers, PT, who serves patients in the health system’s Physical and Occupational Therapy department, is leading this effort.

“It has been an honor to be a part of this initiative to ensure that our most vulnerable community members are still being cared for during this time of social distancing,” commented Aalbers. “We wanted to find a way to meet their health concerns (both physical and emotional) during this time when they are strongly encouraged to stay home.”

She added, “Constraint often drives creativity. It has been inspiring to see the employees here at Orange City Area Health system respond so quickly and openly. From administration to nurses to aids and techs, they are all rising up to different job duties and stepping into different roles in order to make sure our patients receive appropriate care. It is truly evident how much our employees care about our patients.”

For more information about this Outreach Service to Seniors program, please call 712-737-2000.

 

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