Saturday, May 16, 2015

Resurrecting the Blog

Hi Everyone:

I have been extremely remiss in terms of keeping up this blog, and my sales have shown it. Frankly, I could use an assistant or better yet, a publicist. Unfortunately, I can’t afford one, and I don’t quite have the energy to do all the things I should do each day to write, maintain my blogs, and keep up with my editing schedule.

There are two days each week when I don’t have access to wi-fi because I’m doing volunteer work at The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, which is next door to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, about fifty miles north of Chicago. They combined the Navy hospital with the North Chicago VA, and I believe it’s the best facility for veterans in the country. As a pilot program, it’s certainly the most scrutinized. We have Suits (members of Congress and the Administration) and Brass (Admirals from the Pentagon) visiting all the time.
The Primary Care Kiosk
I help people with a program called My Health e-Vet that enables vets to refill their meds, check their labs, x-rays and other tests, medical notes, and to communicate with their VA caregivers from their home computers. We sign up new patients, help people find lost user IDs and passwords, and give them tutorials on using the system. We have two kiosks—one in Primary Care and one in the Pharmacy. I usually inhabit the one in the Pharmacy, and for some reason, people come in, walk right past the Quarterdeck where there are both Navy and civilian personnel whose main duty is to give directions, and they come to me and ask where their clinics are. Fortunately, I’ve been around the hospital a long time and I’m usually able to help.

We have another program called “No Veteran Dies Alone.” It was started by a volunteer here who was a Navy wife. She knew so many patients who had no one left when they died—no loved ones to sit with them, so she suggested volunteers do so. We try to provide twenty-four hour coverage, but we don’t always quite manage it. Right now, I’m the only volunteer who takes the mid-shift and I can’t always stay the entire time from midnight when our evening lady leaves to six-thirty when our first daytime man comes on, especially if I’ve been there or will be there all day doing My Health e-Vet as well.

If we are there when a patient dies, we stay for the Final Salute, also started by the same lady. Hospitals transport patients to the morgue in a hollow gurney, usually with just a white sheet so no one knows there’s a body in it. We put a red, white and blue afghan on our gurney. Uniformed personnel, any volunteers who can get there, and the staff line the corridor of the ward. During business hours a chaplain officiates and says a prayer if the patient or family requests it, and we play a recording of TAPS. Everyone salutes as the gurney passes. It’s very moving. I feel privileged to be part of that program. We hold a memorial service once a year for our patients, and their families attend. We volunteers represent the patients who had no families, especially if we were with them at the end. I was in a video about the program. Here’s the URL:

So, that’s what I’ve mostly been up to this past year. Hanging out at the VA and, oh yes! My daughter got married to a wonderful man. It was a truly beautiful wedding—a fairlytale, complete with crossed lightsabres at the reception. The kids love Star Wars. I can truly say a good time was had by all.

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