First Community Village offers residents a personal path to wellness

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Jackie Metro, Director of Wellness at First Community Village, teaches a tai chi class for residents in December.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – When Dale and Glinna Fretwell arrived at First Community Village in September 2014, Dale was in bad shape.

“He got a blood infection in Florida,” Glinna recalled. “He was in bed for so long, he just lost his muscle strength. When he left the hospital we went to a rehab center. We were just very unhappy there.”

Natives of Virginia, the Fretwells had retired to Florida many years before. But now, with Dale’s illness, the difficulty of being on their own – and in a facility that did not meet their needs – made life particularly hard.

One of their daughters suggested that they consider moving into a community closer to where she lived in Columbus.

“There were four or five places that she visited,” Glinna said. “She has two little boys that came with her and she would ask them what they thought of each place. They told her First Community Village was their favorite. She asked them why. They said because they had candy at the front desk. It’s the little things that are important.”

In addition to the candy, First Community Village had the support services the facility in Florida was lacking.

“We put (Dale) on a plane in Tampa and we brought him straight here,” Glinna said, sitting just outside the physical therapy rooms at First Community Village. “The difference here is night and day. We hadn’t been here 30 minutes when a physical therapist came in and gave him an evaluation.”

“We offer a wellness assessment and we look at each new member holistically and determine their individual needs,” said Jackie Metro, the Director of Wellness at First Community Village. “We work specifically on whatever their needs for improvement are and work to get them to their optimal level of fitness.”

Dale spent about three months in physical therapy before he was able to get back on his feet and move into the manor home the Fretwells purchased.

“This place practically saved my husband’s life,” Glinna said. “He is so thankful for the good healthcare that we have had here.”

First Community Village has always had a wellness program, but in early 2016 National Church Residences enhanced what it had to offer.

“We expanded the program,” said Sarah Dalton Ortlieb, National Church Residences Vice President of Rehab Services. “We wanted to do wellness from all the domains, not just physical, but intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational and environmental. We wanted to have more comprehensive wellness opportunities for the residents there.”

“I am able to tailor their care and make it appropriate to what they need,” Jackie said. “I like to think of it as a nice cycle. There is always a place for each resident.”

For residents who need the most care there is physical therapy. For those who need less, there are group exercise classes and activities.

“You can go from physical therapy and graduate into a group exercise,” Jackie said.

Between five-to-eight classes are offered each weekday at First Community Village, ranging from aqua aerobics in the pool, balance classes, tai chi, yoga, dance, range of motion classes and classes specifically for those with Parkinson’s disease.

“We are regulars at the gym. We use it three days a week,” said Glinna. “And we love the pool. We use it three days a week. It has kept us walking, literally. My husband has had both knees replaces and I had knee surgery, too.”

Jackie said that since the expanded services became available, she has seen a 45 percent increase in the number of physical therapy visits and a 35 percent boost in the number of participants who come to the fitness center.

“We love it here,” Glinna said. “They care for you and go out of their way to make sure you are as comfortable as you can get.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Napoletan on a mission to end Alzheimer’s

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Ann Napoletan was presented with the “Spirit of Philanthropy” award by Jeff Wolf, National Church Residences Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Mission Impact, at the organization’s national conference in September.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – It was a bit of a shock when Ann Napoletan’s daughter put a hand on her shoulder during the awards presentation at the National Church Residences national conference.

“I didn’t know why she was there,” recalled Ann, an Treasury Manager at the home office in Columbus. “I thought maybe something was wrong.”

Ann was sitting at a table full of colleagues, who had suspiciously made sure their table was toward the front of the room. Little did Ann know that she was the only one at the table – including her daughter – who did not know she was about to receive the National Church Residences “Spirit of Philanthropy” award from Jeff Wolf, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Mission Impact.

“I had absolutely no idea,” Ann said. “I was just blown away. Absolutely blown away. I still am.”

From 9 to 5 (and sometimes even longer) Ann crunches numbers as part of the team of accountants who manage National Church Residences’ budgets. But it is the tireless work she does on the side that truly embodies the organization’s “Spirit of Philanthropy.”

Four years ago Ann lost her mother, Marilyn, to Alzheimer’s Disease shortly after her 76th birthday.

“My mom was the most lively, full-of-life person,” Ann said, sitting for this interview on what would have been Marilyn’s 80th birthday. “My daughter doesn’t want to see the words Alzheimer’s or dementia. I’m the opposite.

“I have to know there’s a greater purpose. For me that’s advocating, teaching, writing, helping other families. It’s almost like a second career.”

After her mother’s passing, Ann began a blog called, “The Long and Winding Road” at www.ALZjourney.com.

“The best way I can keep mom’s memory alive is to keep telling her story,” Ann said.

As her writing gained popularity, she was asked to contribute to the online content for organization’s that dealt directly with Alzheimer’s care.

In 2013 she was asked to co-moderate an online support group called, “Us Against Alzheimer’s.”

“This year I launched a non-profit in my mom’s name,” she added. “I had done so much fundraising for other groups, I just wanted to have a little more control of where the fundraising dollars were going.”

Marilyn’s Legacy: A World Without Alzheimer’s is Ann’s non-profit that is focused on not only finding a cure for Alzheimer’s but also providing unique opportunities to benefit individuals currently living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“I know that I’m making a direct impact on these people’s lives,” Ann said.

The fact that National Church Residences made a point to recognize Ann for her work made it a little more special.

“It was a great experience to be recognized,” she said. “To be at a company that cares about things like that … that it’s not all bottom-line oriented. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Ann added that it is because of her experience in facing her mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease that she found her way to National Church Residences in June of 2014.

“I am at National Church Residences because of my mom,” she said. “I was at Nationwide for 27 years. I was in a good place financially and career-wise, but I wasn’t fulfilled at all.”

With a background in treasury, Ann said that it was like divine intervention that the position she currently holds became available at the exact time she felt the need to make a change.

“This treasury job almost fell into my lap,” she said. “This is where I’m meant to be. Even on a bad day, that over-arching mission is still there. I gave up a lot, but I’m so happy here.”

Detroit properties unite to collect water for Flint families in need

 

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Members of the National Church Residences’ Detroit portfolio of properties united to donate and deliver 726 cases of clean water to the people of Flint, Michigan

By LANCE CRANMER                                                              lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

DETROIT – The first time Makeda Hunt drove a truck loaded with bottled water to Catholic Charities of Flint/Owosso to help the families suffering from the Flint Water Crisis, she witnessed an incredible sight.

“When we were unloading the van, a line of cars was coming up just waiting for water,” said Makeda, the Regional Manager who oversees National Church Residences’ Detroit portfolio. “I really saw the need.”

For that first trip to Flint last April, employees and residents of Wayne Tower (in Wayne, MI) collected about 100 cases of water.

After what she saw there, however, Makeda decided to pool all of her Detroit-area resources together and make an effort on a larger scale.

“I knew our regional conference was coming up in May and I would have all of my managers there together,” she said. “It was the perfect opportunity to put the challenge on the table.”

Makeda tasked her team with the goal of collecting as much bottled water, sanitary wipes and bottles of hand sanitizer as possible to help aid with the Flint Water Crisis.

“They exceeded my expectations,” Makeda said. “I was thinking I would have about 500 cases.”

Over a two day span on June 30 and July 1, Makeda went site-to-site collecting donated water from 15 National Church Residences properties.

“It resulted in a total collection of 726 cases of water,” she said. “Enough to fill up a 20-foot U-Haul truck.”

Makeda took the truck (that she personally paid to rent), along with five cars full of volunteers from various National Church Residences sites, to Flint on July 1 to make the donation – just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

“I am beyond impressed with the amount of cases of water that we were able to collect and have donated to the residents of Flint,” said Sonya Brown, National Church Residences Regional Vice President, whose region includes the Detroit properties. “This exemplifies true teamwork between our staff and our residents, as well as each (of our employees) commitment to our mission.”

The Flint Water Crisis began in late 2014 when the drinking water supply to Flint, Michigan, was switched over from Detroit’s public water system to polluted water from the Flint River.

In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, donations poured in from around the country. But when the Flint Water Crisis stopped being a national headline, donations of clean drinking water began to dwindle.

“While we were there I had an opportunity to talk to one of the directors from Catholic Charities,” Makeda said. There was a semi-truck that they would store the water in when people would make the deliveries. At the time they were down to their last few pallets.”

According to the staff at Catholic Charities, the water donated by National Church Residences employees and residents was enough to provide clean water to 181 Flint families – each is allowed to take a max of four cases per visit.

“I was very impressed with Solberg Tower, who collected 160 cases, and Madison Manor, being our newest addition to the portfolio, who collected 100 cases,” Makeda said. “We have a lot of residents that are low income and financially strapped, but even the ones who couldn’t get out to get water to donate brought money to their managers that we used to go buy water.”

Makeda was proud of the effort her team put in to collect the water, but added that the water crisis in Flint is still ongoing.

“It’s nowhere near over,” she said. “What I found out on my last visit was that families that had newer plumbing, they were able to install water filters. Those that have the filters in their homes now have adequate water. For the homes that are still not up to date, those are the families that suffer the most and need the most water. They still can’t utilize the city water.”

The National Church Residences Detroit team would like to organize one more water drive before winter. Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Makeda Hunt at mhunt@nationalchurchresidences.org.

Properties that contributed to the water drive included: Lakeside Towers, Lakeside Villa, Meadow Creek Village, Clinton Place Apartments, Canton Place, Clark East Tower, Columbia Court, Romulus Tower, Solberg Tower, Madison Tower, Madison Manor, Wayne Tower, Park Place of Harper Woods, Eden Manor, and Evangelical Manor.

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A pallet of water donated by National Church Residences to the residents of Flint, Michigan.

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Members of the National Church Residences Detroit Team filled a 20-foot U-haul truck with donated water for Flint, Michigan.

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The 20-foot truck was packed to the top with donated water — 726 cases!

Program brings food to central Ohio seniors in need

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Residents at Meadowview Village Apartments in Mount Sterling, Ohio, sort through donated food last week. Each resident that signs up can walk through and pick up groceries.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                          LCranmer@NationalChurchResidences.org

COLUMBUS – April Huber watched as her residents filed in to the community room five at a time holding bags and baskets, waiting their turn to walk through and collect their supply of donated food.

“It doesn’t matter if we have one thing to give or 1,000 things … everything helps,” said April, the Senior Property Manager at National Church Residences Lincoln Gardens.

Three years ago, April secured a monthly food donation from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank to benefit the 100 low-income seniors who live at Lincoln Gardens.

“For some of them, as little as $343 is their monthly income. Some only get $16 to $32 a month in food stamps,” April said. “Having this food, especially at the end of the month, is such a help. This means a lot to them.”

April said she initially got the property on a waiting list with Mid-Ohio Food Bank, a non-profit that has served Central Ohio on the mission to end hunger since 1980, before becoming a regular once-a-month stop.

Seeking to help another National Church Residences property that was in great need, April made an additional request to Mid-Ohio to see if the organization could help Meadowview Village, located roughly 25 miles away in rural Mt. Sterling, Ohio.

“When we asked Mid-Ohio Food Bank if we could take food down there, even though it is in Madison County, they said sure,” April said.

Tammy Justice began her career at National Church Residences working under April at Lincoln Gardens. A year ago she made the transition to becoming the Property Manager at Meadowview.

“April recruited me,” Tammy said. “She knew this property and she knew the needs of the community. Now that we are at full occupancy, there’s an even bigger need.”

Nearly two years ago the only grocery store in Mt. Sterling, a community with a population of less than 1,800, closed down leaving Meadowview residents without a nearby place to get groceries.

“A lot of our residents don’t drive,” Tammy said. “The nearest store is probably in Washington Court House, which is about 20 minutes away.”

Tammy said when Meadowview residents are able to make grocery runs, they make sure to take care of each other.

“If one is going to the grocery store and they have a neighbor who doesn’t have a car,” she said, “they knock on their door and ask if they need anything or if they want to go with them.”

Having the food brought straight to their building, however, is a Godsend.

“They get a 5- or 10-pound bag of potatoes, some onions, fruit, milk – they get between $50 to $80 worth of groceries,” Tammy said. “For one person who lives alone, that’s pretty good.”

Since she arrived at Meadowview, Tammy has helped multiple formerly homeless into the building. She said, at first, getting them back on their feet is a challenge.

“They don’t have money for things like groceries,” she said. “The donations we get from Mid-Ohio Food bank are such a big help for them.”

According to information released by the Mayo Clinic, currently 10 million Americans aged 50 or older are considered “food insecure,” meaning that they do not have reliable access to food.

A 2014 study conducted by Feeding America found that seniors who suffer from being food insecure are at higher risk for chronic health conditions and depression. Food insecurity has been found to be a strong predictor of health problems in seniors as it leads to reduced muscle mass, lower bone density, poor vision and an increased likelihood to report heart problems.

April said the monthly food delivery to Lincoln Gardens has been very important to her residents.

“These are the people programs like this are meant to benefit,” she said.

“You’ve got people who will come up to you two or three days from now and just say, ‘thank you for the food,’” added Tammy. “I think it’s a big help.”

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Food from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank is first delivered to Lincoln Gardens (pictured here) and the surplus is later driven south to Meadowview.

National Church Residences hospice services continue to grow in southern Ohio

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By LANCE CRANMER                                                                lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

WAVERLY, Ohio – It’s far too simple of a statement to say that it takes a special kind of person to be a hospice worker.

“It is a service that really touches the patient, as well as everyone around them,” said Sandy Lawhorn, the Director of Clinical Services for National Church Residences’ hospice team at Bristol Village Health Care in Waverly, Ohio. “It not only looks at a patient and their physical illness, it focuses on a broader spectrum of what is going on in their lives. Their social needs, spiritual needs, medical needs. To work in hospice and stay in hospice takes a special kind of personality.”

Sandy has spent 24 of her 31 years in the nursing profession focused on hospice care – the last five-plus year of which have been spent with National Church Residences.

“I feel like I’m blessed with some of the best staff here,” she said. “It is a stressful job. You get attached to the people, and eventually they pass. It’s difficult.”

However, Sandy said that her hospice co-workers have a strong sense of teamwork and pull together to help each other when things become difficult.

“I’ve heard my staff when one person has a rough week and has a lot going on, I’ve witnessed other members of the staff say, ‘Hey, can I see one of your patients for you this week?’ The staff we have is just wonderful. They are so supportive of each other. They understand when a person is going through a rough week and they find ways to help each other.”

When National Church Residences began to offer hospice services in southern Ohio, it was primarily residents who received hospice care.

Today, as the services have expanded, that has changed greatly.

“We are expanding more out in the community,” Sandy said. “We are growing beyond our borders more than we initially had. It is exciting to me to see that we’re growing and reaching out instead of being in the smaller areas that we were in when I first started.”

From Bristol Village, located in Pike County, the National Church Residences hospice team now offers hospice care in surrounding counties including Ross, Scioto, Jackson and Vinton – an area that is home to nearly 233,000 Ohioans.

“About six months ago we were in the low 50s (in number of patients),” Sandy said. “Now, for the last couple of months we have had about 75 patients. We’ve grown quite a bit in just the last few months.”

Sandy said that her staff includes five full-time RNs and three contingent RNs (with two more positions to be filled soon), three full-time aides and five contingent aides, two social workers, a volunteer coordinator, a bereavement coordinator, a spiritual coordinator and two office staff.

They serve National Church Residences facilities and have contracts to serve other outlying nursing facilities and also private patients.

“We are available 24/7,” Sandy said. “If they need pain medicine, if they need a visit, we always have an RN available. We will go to their home or their facility and address that need. If they don’t have a family that is able to visit often, we fill that gap. We take them gifts and play games with them. And we have a great group of vigil volunteers that go and sit with patients when they are in the last one-to-two days of their life.”

The National Church Residences hospice staff can also provide help with Medicare issues, provide necessary medical equipment and even offer bereavement services to grieving family members.

“All of those things are covered at no cost to the patient when they’re receiving hospice services,” Sandy said.

Every six months, the hospice staff conducts a life celebration to recognize clients who have passed away.

“It is a wonderful service, very informal, with a sit-down meal,” Sandy said. “We read each person’s name and light a candle for that person. Any family that is there can share whatever they want to share about their loved one and the staff shares some of their memories, too.”

Unique health care partnership signed to benefit central Ohio residents

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(Dr. William Wulf, CEO of Central Ohio Primary Care, and Mark Ricketts, President and CEO of National Church Residences, sign a joint venture to provide primary care physician services for National Church Residences’ central Ohio facilities earlier this month at First Community Village in Upper Arlington.)

COLUMBUS, Ohio ­– The nation’s largest independent primary care group and the nation’s largest non-profit provider of affordable senior housing have officially joined forces to offer a one-of-a-kind health care partnership.

Central Ohio Primary Care Physicians (COPC) signed an agreement earlier this month to provide primary care services in coordination with National Church Residences’ continuum of senior health care services, aimed at helping seniors in Central Ohio avoid unnecessary admissions and readmissions to hospitals or nursing facilities.

“In National Church Residences we have found a partner that puts the patient at the center of every decision,” said Dr. J. William Wulf, M.D., the CEO of COPC. “Over the last three years we have worked together on multiple initiatives and felt that it was time to formalize our relationship in a joint venture.”

The partnership will focus on National Church Residences “Home for Life” program that allows seniors to live healthier lives in their own homes, reducing the need to enter nursing facilities.

“National Church Residences and COPC are jointly making a commitment in central Ohio to help seniors remain at home,” said Mark Ricketts, President and CEO of National Church Residences. “You might even say National Church Residences’ commitment to high quality and reliable ‘At Home Health Care,’ ‘At Home Assistance’ and ‘At Home Hospice Care’ is a senior’s partner at home for life!”

“True population health will require physicians to partner with organizations that can deliver services to the most frail in our care,” Dr. Wulf added. “This will include care for our high risk patients at home and in non-hospital facilities. National Church Residences is an organization focused on providing the level of care needed to improve quality and lower cost.”

In the agreement, National Church Residences will proactively identify at-risk individuals through the organization’s revolutionary Care Guide assessment system to provide person-centered care planning that tracks interventions and outcomes. COPC will provide primary care and other diagnostic services to help manage a patient’s health both before and after the need for higher levels of care.

“This joint venture with COPC is unique and exciting,” said Ricketts. “While many senior living organizations in the United States have offered primary care services on campus, few have taken the step of partnering with primary care physicians serving residents in the community.”

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(Dr. John Weigand, National Church Residences Chief Medical Officer, Mark Ricketts, National Church Residences President and CEO, and Dr. William Wulf, CEO of Central Ohio Primary Care, celebrate the signing of a joint venture between the two organizations.)

Ravine at Central College seniors get some wild visitors

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By LANCE CRANMER                                                         LCranmer@NationalChurchResidences.org

COLUMBUS – It’s not every day that seniors can make it to the zoo. Especially not in January. So why not bring the zoo to the seniors.

“My residents are really good about coming to me with suggestions,” said Francie Hughlock, National Church Residences Life Enrichment Director at Ravine at Central College I and II in Westerville, Ohio. “If we can get it done, we’ll get it done.”

A few months back, a resident came to Hughlock with a suggestion that seemed promising.

“She sent me a link to this program at the Columbus Zoo,” she said. “She wanted to know if it was possible to bring them into the Ravines.”

Hughlock took the request to National Church Residences management and got the green light to reach out to the Columbus Zoo.

Tuesday afternoon a Zoo van pulled up in front of Ravine at Central College carrying a cast of characters from around the globe including an armadillo, porcupine, bearded dragon, box turtle, possum, pink flamingo and an Australian critter called an echidna.

“It’s very one-on-one,” said Amy Esswein, an Animal Encounters Outreach Assistant with the Columbus Zoo. “(The seniors) get to interact with the animals in a one-on-one basis. We get to hear them tell their stories and we can share our stories with them.”

Hughlock said that when she first arrived at the Ravines shortly before the Zoo visit was to begin, she expected to have to go door-to-door to remind the residents about the event.

“As I was knocking on doors I started to realize that the people were already down there,” she said. “I saw a lot of faces in here that might not usually come downstairs in the afternoon. We even had some that didn’t want to come into the room, but they still sat in the hall and watched. They really enjoyed it.”

Esswein said that the most common groups to schedule visits from the Animal Encounters Outreach team are seniors and children, and that the animals selected for the day highly depend on the audience.

“It depends. We have a skunk. Some places don’t want anything to do with the skunk,” she laughed. “Sometimes the reactions are different. Like with snakes. Seniors tend to not like them so much, so we tend not to bring them.”

As the animals came out, residents were treated to a short presentation about each one and what was special about them. They then had the chance to pet most of them – not the porcupine, for obvious reasons – and ask questions.

“I love getting asked questions,” Esswein said. “It shows that they’re interested and really engaged.”

“I know it was a big hit,” Hughlock said. “We were having residents ‘Shh!’ the other ones who were talking.”

A crowd of better than 30 residents assembled for the presentation, which lasted around 45 minutes.

“This was open to both Ravines buildings,” Hughlock said. “If the snow hadn’t come today I think we’d have had even more people.”

Esswein said the program operates August through May and can be scheduled by calling the Columbus Zoo or visiting the Zoo’s website.

“I was listening and people were asking about next time and if they could bring different animals,” Hughlock said. “I would love to have them back.”

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