By Portia Williams
RUSSELL, Ky. — As heated temperatures arise during the summer season, the adverse affects can impact the elderly population. Healthy Community Services of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell is seeking to assist the elderly through a referral system that provides air conditioners for elderly patients in need.
According to Mary Ellen Conley, senior services coordinator for Healthy Community Services, since last year, HCS has implementing a referral system during the summer months to provide air conditions to the elderly.
“We started small last year, but this year we are getting a better response. We get more referrals than maybe people would realize because of our home health nurses. They find elderly people out there, a lot of them have breathing problems, and really need air conditioning,” Conley said. “The elderly with houses are not in as bad a situation as the ones in apartments and trailers.”
She said Healthy Community Services mission encompasses help the elder to dwell in comfort.
“What we do is work to help elderly people stay in their homes as long as possible. Our mission statement is to help elderly to live safely and comfortably. A lot of them live in their homes, but they’re not safe, and they’re not comfortable,” she said.
Although she is not a medical expert, she said has learned a lot from working with the elderly through HCS, and the Meals on Wheels program.
“The big thing is, although I am not a clinical person to talk health, but elderly dehydrate very easily, and with the heat, they can become seriously ill before they even realize it. There have been times when we’ve had really hot weather, that we send bottled water with their meals, for the ones that get meals. Although most people have water, if we hear of a need, we try to help,” she said.
Air conditioners, as well as monetary donations, may be brought to a specified location.
“What we do is tell the people to contact me, and then we make the arrangements. We can’t go and pick the air conditioners up, but we have a spot at a dock at the Bellefonte Pavillion and they can just unload them there. Then, some of our maintenance crew will clean them, and put new filters in them,” she said. “Actually, one of our doctors has donated money to buy the freon, and the filters, and the things to fix the air conditioners up, to make sure they are in good shape when we get them to the people.”
To donate an air conditioner to assist the elderly, or to make a monetary donation, contact Conley at Health Community Services at 606-833-3398.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.