Smyrna facility looking for people to ‘adopt’ patients

DOVER — The second annual Friends and Family Day at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill is only a few weeks away and although many residents will have the opportunity to spend time with their loved ones, others will have no visitors.

Similar to DHCI’s annual Christmas event, the facility is recruiting volunteers to adopt residents for Sept. 12 event, held on the facility’s grounds in Smyrna.

“It’s sad, some of the residents have been there for 20 or 30 years and some don’t have anyone to come visit them anymore,” Bruce MacGloan of Dover said. “We read about the event last year and we have free time so we decided to volunteer and now we go when we have the chance.”

Mr. MacGloan and his wife Patricia started their visits at last year’s Friends and Family Day and since have stopped by a handful of times.

“The doctors and nurses are all great, but they don’t have the time to spend with each of the patients to give them company, so that’s where people like us come in,” Mr. MacGloan said.

Each Family and Friends Day has a different theme and this year’s is Boot Scootin’ Family & Friends Day Bash. The celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes a disc jockey, a picnic lunch with watermelon, snow cones, popcorn, cotton candy and activities like line dancing, a water balloon toss and face painting.

Volunteers can escort residents to lunch, the outdoor activities and special treat stations while spending time with their adopted residents.

“It makes such a huge difference,” said Lisa Satterly, DHCI activity and therapy program director. “There are a lot of smiles. Even for our non-verbal residents, you can just see the look on their face about how happy they are to have a visitor and someone who cares stop by.”

From adopting a patient last year, the MacGloans have formed a good relationship with one of the patients and visit him outside special events when they are able.

“We don’t go all the time, but we do when we can and there is one resident we see each time we go and we bring him some things he likes and are there to give him company,” Mr. MacGloan said.

Before coming for the first time, the volunteer office will be able to give a list of dietary restrictions, and items the resident might enjoy, or volunteers can just spend time with the patient and join in the provided outdoor picnic lunch.

“For individuals who volunteer to adopt residents, you will get back so much more than you give,” Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said. “This annual event is an incredible way to give back and to spend quality time with residents of the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill.”

Mr. MacGloan said the experience has been rewarding for he and his wife.

“We get so much more out of it than what we give,” he said. “They make you feel like family and we get to learn about their lives and just spend some quality time together.”

Groups and organizations also may adopt a resident and depending on the size of the group, it may adopt a unit which typically consists of 20 to 30 residents.

DHCI is operated by DHSS and has about 140 residents. Admission requires both a financial and a medical need.

Those interested interested in adopting a resident for Friends and Family Day should contact Jennifer Bobel, the volunteer services coordinator, at Jennifer.Bobel@state.de.us or call (302) 223-1011 no later than Aug. 26.

DCHI is at 100 Sunnyside Road in Smyrna.

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Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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