Many of us take our mode of transportation somewhat for granted. If we need to get to an important medical appointment, we can drive ourselves there, or call on a friend.
For veterans who are sick or injured, or need maintenance care for a chronic condition, the daunting task of finding a ride is a major issue. They may live alone, have a caregiver who is compromised, lack the funds to pay for a ride, or live far away from a bus or train station.
Since the Take the Wheel initiative launched this summer, which offers volunteer drivers to drive veterans to their medical appointments, several veterans are already able to gain peace of mind – and access to their much-needed care. For one client, who must receive treatments for a chronic health issue each week, his volunteer drivers are a G-d send. “I am so grateful to have someone who cares, driving me to my medical appointments. He is my friend, not just a volunteer driver. I used to be up all night, stomach in knots, wondering how I would get there. Now I know it will be alright, I will get there – I can rest easy for once.”
Medical appointments are also challenging for many of senior and non-veteran clients, sometimes because of the stress of going to the appointment alone, but for many other reasons. Many seniors with ongoing health issues find doctor appointments confusing or inciting of panic – resulting in a patient not remembering doctor instructions, key health advice given, or comprehending complicated medical jargon that a doctor may use. This can be a very slippery and dangerous slope – as the seniors could confuse medications, forget follow-up appointments, lack the ability to later share the specifics of their healthcare or treatment status with their loved ones or caregivers who need to be informed.
Since the inception of the JFCS program Patient Partners, the program has blossomed into an amazing service, helping many seniors each year. Patient Partners volunteers, who complete a comprehensive training in medical terminology, record notes for JFCS clients at their doctor appointments. These volunteers raise questions to the doctor on behalf of the senior, and act as an advocate so that the patient, and the patient’s family are well informed of the details of each visit. The Patient Partners program, generously supported by The Raymond & Gertrude R. Saltzman Foundation and Area VII Physicians Review Organization, Inc. – HQSI, will enable JFCS to expand the service footprint in the next year, to include more seniors who need a helping hand at their appointments.
While the Take the Wheel and Patient Partners programs are a testament to JFCS meeting the ever-changing needs of the community – JFCS is always in need of volunteers to continue to put the wheels into motion. We urge you to become a part of these programs, and experience the rewarding journey of volunteering for our veterans and our seniors. Please call 856-424-1333 to register to volunteer, or if you know of someone who needs either of these services.