A place for vets in need of care
Facility provides host of services to Niagara County residents, including health care
By Michele Deluca
Fessor Lee Thomas Jr. wants area veterans to know there’s a great place for them to come if they are in ill health and need care during the day.
Thomas has been attending the GuildCare Adult Day Health Care Program in Niagara Falls since he had a stroke several years ago. He’s better now but enjoys every day he spends at the center where there are activities, friendships, and breakfast and lunch offered — along with the monitoring of his health.
The GuildCare program is provided by the nonprofit Lighthouse Guild and focuses on clients with vision impairment, providing those like Thomas with somewhere to go during the day. Located in both Buffalo and Niagara Falls, GuildCare is the only adult day care program in Niagara County using a medical model, as compared to a social model of daycare.
The difference between social and medical models of daycare is that the medical model provides medical staff, including registered nurses, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and nutritional therapists. The attendee must be vision-impaired but the guidelines are wide, according to Terresa Olenick, RN, director of GuildCare in Niagara Falls, which is located at 4520 Military Road. During a recent weekday, about 40 people enjoyed the music of an entertainer in the cafeteria while several program attendees took time out to speak on how much they enjoyed attending one to six times a week.
“The people who are here all have a medical need, cardiac patients who are not able to take care of themselves,” Olenick said.
GuildCare, which was originally on Pine Avenue for about 10 years, moved to a new building at 4520 Military Road about 10 years ago. People who are diabetics or cardiac patients, especially those who need care during the day, may qualify to attend.
Beyond entertainment, the activities offered include arts and crafts, various group meetings on a variety of tops, and fitness activities like games like Wii bowling, modified basketball and even modified bean bag toss. Other services include vision rehabilitation therapy; medication management, counseling, and assistance with managing Medicaid. There is also a van service available to transport participants to and from their homes.
GuildCare has long served the community and now is seeking veterans to apply for the program.
“We were recently awarded a contract in September for the VA (Veterans’ Administration). They closed their adult daycare program,” Olenick said. The closed program, located in Amherst served veterans throughout the region including Niagara County.
Thomas, 57, attends Monday through Friday and every other Saturday, after signing up to attend the program because of double vision due to his stroke. He’s a sort of ambassador for GuildCare because, after his stroke, he battled depression and the program changed that. “It lifted me up and made me smile again,” he said.
Mahmoud Elabed of Buffalo happily attends the program, especially because it gets him out of the house and fills his day with activities. “I enjoy it all,” he said. Elabed qualifies for the program because he has a condition called binocular vision. He’s been attending since 2015. He especially likes that attending keeps him from smoking. “I can breathe better,” he said, noting that he also get physical therapy once a week.
Sandra Charles of Niagara Falls, 62, comes to the program three times a week for therapy for her hands and legs following a stroke in 2003. “It’s very nice to have a place to go to,” she said.
Other services include vision rehabilitation therapy; medication management, counseling, and assistance with managing Medicaid.
For more information visit us online at GuildCare or call 716-285-3499.
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