Easter Seals' Northern Ohio Homecare Allows Senior to Forego Nursing Home Stay

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The story of Lorain, Ohio resident Jody Garcia, who works with Easter Seals Northern Ohio to keep her independence, and spirit strong.

Lifelong Lorain resident Jody Garcia counted the days until her surgeon would reverse her colostomy in 2006. What she didn't want, though, was the expected nursing home stay to recuperate following the surgery.

Thanks to Easter Seals Northern Ohio's Home Care Services program, Garcia got her wish. "My doctor said because I had Easter Seals I could go home and wouldn't have to go to a nursing home," she says. "That made me even happier."

Just six months earlier, Garcia didn't even know the role Easter Seals would play in her life. On March 14, 2006, she had an emergency colostomy then picked up a hard-to-fight staph infection at the hospital and ended up in a nursing home to recuperate. "I was devastated, devastated," she says. "I wasn't eating. The antibiotics were making me sick. I was depressed."

While in the nursing home, she learned about Easter Seals Home Care Services through PASSPORT, a program of Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging that provides long-term care options to help seniors remain in their own homes and retain their independence. Garcia was put on the waiting list for Easter Seals' assistance.

Easter Seals Home Care Services provide short- and long-term care that allows people to remain secure and comfortable in their own homes. Supervised by a case manager, aides help clients meet basic personal care needs such as bathing, shampooing, dressing, light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, as well as respite care for families caring for individual with special needs.

Garcia's niece, Carol Armbruster, an Easter Seals Home Health Aid, helped her that first month home. At first, the assistance was provided Monday through Friday. After Garcia gained more strength and ability, the assistance was reduced to three days a week. Now, Easter Seals' Elizabeth Hitchens assists Garcia two days a week.

She helps Garcia improve her range of motion, put on her hose to help circulation and does what Garcia calls "heavy lifting," including sweeping and mopping. Hitchens also goes once a week on errands, picking up bread and milk among other things.

Although she has been experiencing some health issues lately, Garcia remains active--her wall calendar sits on her dining room table, filled with her appointments and activities. Her phone rings frequently as her children call to check up on her.

The cozy apartment in the Lorain senior complex has been her home for six years and Garcia has filled it with photos and keepsakes from her life as a single mom of three, grandma to six and great-grandma of one. A woman who spent 30-plus years as a pre-school teacher with Head Start, Garcia is glad to have her home and the assistance of Easter Seals.

"It's been such a great help. I have been so grateful," Garcia says, pausing to think how best to describe what Easter Seals has meant to her.

She finally speaks, "There aren't words."

About Easter Seals Northern Ohio
Easter Seals Northern Ohio's commitment to help children and adults with disabilities live with equality, dignity and independence is carried out through programs in four service areas: Medical Services, Home and Community Based Services, Educational Services and Recreational Services. Specifically, Easter Seals Northern Ohio specializes in speech therapy services for children, as well as a number of senior and home-healthcare programs in Northern Ohio, including Cleveland, Lorain, Akron, Canton, Fremont, Sandusky, Toledo and more. For more information, go to http://noh.easterseals.com/.

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Melissa Kocher
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