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Encouraging words

May 1, 2010
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Residents send messages of hope and love to wounded soldiers

The “war years”-whether serving at the front or stateside; building ships, planes, or munitions; and buying bonds, the “Greatest Generation” knows firsthand the sorrow of loss, the elation of victory, and the heady optimism and hope for the future that peacetime brings. Many soldiers never came home from foreign battlefields. Many of those who did, returned wounded. Whether they healed quickly or they were never whole again, these servicemen bravely and proudly fought for their country.

At a glance…

The residents at Island Nursing and Rehabilitation Center shower patients at Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital with good wishes that come straight from their hearts and hands.

Today, soldiers have again taken up arms in the fight for freedom. At Island Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a 120-bed facility in Holtsville, New York, the residents now turn their hearts and hopes to today's wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

“A member of our Family/Friends Council, who was a veteran, spoke with a representative from the United War Veterans Council who launched a program to send greeting cards to wounded soldiers,” says David Fridkin, administrator/CEO of Island Nursing and Rehab Center. Hospital confinement is difficult for anyone and more so for those who are being cared for far from home and loved ones. To combat loneliness and, hopefully, bring smiles and comfort to the wounded soldiers and sailors, a greeting card project was launched. In their rooms and at activity sessions, residents cut paper, wrote down their feelings, and sent their personal messages to the patients. Whether relating to the infirm and injured as fellow veterans or surrogate grandparents, the residents of Island Nursing spoke sincerely from their hearts.

Therapeutic Recreation Director Lorrie Prescott, CTRS, explains that this was a facility-wide effort. “We provided the residents with all the supplies they needed to express their emotions and creativity,” she says. Various groups met in a number of activity sessions to work on their cards. Not only do the residents get a chance to pass along their heartfelt messages, but this activity also lets them get together to enjoy each other's company. In February, according to Fridkin, 300 greeting cards were delivered to the hospital.

“It's also exciting that a relative of an Island Nursing Family Council member works at New Lane Elementary School and pitched the project to local school administration,” says Fridkin. As a result, a similar student program was initiated to cheer the patients at Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals.

Therapeutic Recreation Staff

Lorrie Prescott, CTRS, Director of Therapeutic Recreation

Michael Friel, CTRS

Chris Brigante, RT

Pamela Rate, RT

Maria Cameron

Alyssa Thomas, TR student

Prescott explains that because of its success, this project continues to be a resident activity. “Not only do they send general greetings and goodwill messages, but they also create holiday cards when appropriate so the patients won't feel alone,” she says. The program has been such a success that a video greeting card, filmed and edited by Chris Brigante, RT, starring the residents was sent to the hospital.

The Island Nursing video was filmed in a wedding reception style with each resident sending their own personal greeting. “It was heartwarming to see and hear the residents' sentiments, and it was especially sweet to see some blowing kisses to the camera,” remarks Prescott.

“Thank you for everything you've done,” might seem like a small message to the wounded, but when it's delivered by the residents of Island Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, it's a giant hug.

Check out the full 8-minute resident salute at

http://www.ltlmagazine.com/ResidentGreetingVideo.

To send your comments to the editor, e-mail mhrehocik@vendomegrp.com.

Long-Term Living 2010 May;59(5):36-37

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