Tag Archives: elderly

WNYC Covers Belle Harbor Manor Story About LOOTING (With Photos and Audio)

(Special thanks to WNYC’s Fred Mogul for speaking to residents about their return home, and for the wonderful reporting and piece!)

The “looting” at the facility was the type that took a lot of meticulous snooping and sifting; I was there with Fred Mogul when residents discovered they were victimized.  Envelopes inside of envelopes emptied of cash and vital documents, then neatly returned to their original positions.  Not a messy rifling through of drawers and such, which makes me think it was someone who had a LOT of time to sift though every locked cabinet and drawer.

Listen to the story by clicking this link (written transcript below):
News story audio: WNYC’s Fred Mogul Speaks to Belle Harbor Residents On Their Return Home, 2/16/13

Fred Mogul/WNYC

Adult home residents are relatively independent, but they typically have physical disabilities or mental illness.

Fred Mogul/WNYC
(My note: Here I am in my favorite coat talking to Karen Turnbull as residents step off the bus and return home for the first time in 107 days.)

 

Fred Mogul/WNYC

Bob Rosenberg was among several residents pleased to be back — but nervous about possible losses to looters and cleanup workers.

Fred Mogul/WNYC

Jagdesh Trivedi believes his Green Card and Social Security card were stolen, along with more than $200 and two pairs of shoes. (My note: Two pairs of brand new Timberland boots, that is.)

Fred Mogul/WNYC

Howard Kucine unwinds after a tense return. He says many things are missing from his room. (My note: Howie is amazing and a US Navy Veteran.)
News Staff: Fred Mogul (Cropped)

Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.

FULL STORY FROM WNYC.ORG
Exiles Return: Months after Sandy, Adult Home Residents Go Back to the Rockaways

Residents of Belle Harbor Manor return home for the first time since Sandy. (Fred Mogul)

TRANSCRIPT: More than three months after Sandy forced them to evacuate, the residents of Belle Harbor Manor in the Rockaways returned to their home on Thursday. It’s the last of 22 evacuated adult residences to get its occupants back home (though three other residences remain closed indefinitely, as do three nursing homes, according to the state Health Department). And while the Belle Harbor Manor residents appreciated the shiny new linoleum floors and freshly painted walls, they also found some unwelcome surprises.

After festive welcome-home dinner, the residents, who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses and physical disabilities but are generally independent, were allowed to go to their rooms. Complaints about missing possessions quickly began filtering into the hallways.

“I opened the door and I saw this lock is broken,” said resident Jagdesh Trivedi.  “Shoes are gone — two boxes of shoes — sunglasses are missing, and my Green Card and Social Security card are missing.”

A spokesman for Belle Harbor, Jonathan Greenspun, from the Mercury public relations and lobbying firm, said that all allegations of theft will be investigated, and residents will be compensated if they can prove possessions or cash are actually missing. But he also said that looting was widely reported throughout the Rockaways after Sandy, and that the operators of the home had worked tirelessly to repair facilities, so they could bring the residents back.

To listen to the full story, click the blue link above.

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Elderly Evacuees From Rockaways Need Your Help

Hundreds of elderly Sandy evacuees in shelter at the Park Slope Armory. Photo: David Sobel, RI-1 DMAT

Following Hurricane Sandy, the residents of Bell Harbor Manor, a 162- patient assisted-living facility that was decimated by flooding and subsequent looting that occurred in the neighborhood of Far Rockaway, Queens, became refugees, unable to return home. They were moved into a temporary shelter at the Park Slope Armory where their care, primarily from volunteers supporting the American Red Cross, DMAT, the Department of Health and AmeriCorps and facilitated by Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, aided their most immediate needs. In addition to scores of civilian volunteers converging on the Armory, which made an enormously positive and imperative impact on the then-500 evacuees and required logistical volunteers to create a volunteer sign up infrastructure to streamline efforts, wellness programs were initiated and included showing movies, musicians coming in for concerts and sing-alongs, writing workshops, arts and crafts, and service animals. The benefits of these efforts – in addition to seeing the friendly faces of volunteers who established relationships with evacuees – considerably eased the trauma of Sandy’s immediate aftermath. Three weeks after the storm and sleeping in a general population on cots in rows of 20 at the Armory, Belle Harbor Manor Residents were then moved to temporary housing at the Kings Hotel in East New York, a facility that was not designed to accommodate this type of resident where they still reside on cots, four residents to a room, and do not have bars on bathtubs, mirrors in bathrooms, closets or dressers to store black garbage bags full of donated clothing they obtained at the Armory (which is now all they possess), and only one elevator to shuttle nearly 200 residents among four floors, many of whom rely on wheelchairs and walkers.

Clothing donation center at the Armory where I spent overnights for three weeks.

These senior evacuees, all of whom have special medical or mental health needs, escaped in the dark of night during Hurricane Sandy without their wallets, pocketbooks, mobile phones, or any way to communicate with loved ones and care for basic needs on their own. In the first few weeks, they had been surviving through donations of essential items at the Armory and the kindness of strangers. In time, CenterLight Health System, one of the largest comprehensive, not-for-profit healthcare organizations in the country, began managing care of the residents – in addition to the City of New York’s Department of Health – and provided an immense amount of logistical support, not only for the evacuee residents but also for the volunteers who wanted to stay connected throughout their transition out of the Armory and into Kings Hotel.

Wellness programming, put in place by volunteers, provide evacuees with activities to raise spirits and engage them with human connection and a sense of caring and normalcy in an otherwise stressful situation.

Thanks to the flexibility and welcome of CenterLight and their Site Administrator Maria Provenzano, volunteer and wellness programs were immediately allowed to be put in place at Kings Hotel, reconnecting volunteers who had met residents at the Armory, assisting with meal distribution and caring visits, all of which greatly improved the spirit of evacuees who were relieved to see familiar faces and to know that, even though many do not have family of their own, they are cared for and loved. For this especially vulnerable population, the continued displacement from home, paired with relocation, has been shown to increase the risk of trauma to patients. Referred to in the industry as “transfer trauma” — stress that individuals with dementia experience when changing living environments — dislocation can have serious health effects including depression and anxiety. The presence of wellness programs and volunteers are proven help to relief some of these symptoms and provide the human connection that is so critical at this time. For the last two weeks getting volunteers (who are located much closer to the Armory in Park Slope) to visit Kings Hotel in East New York has been increasingly difficult, and many musicians – who themselves are struggling financially – cannot afford to take car services. To alleviate this, volunteers have been paying for transportation out-of-pocket.

Wellness activities, including arts, music and visits from Willow the service poodle, ease stress the stress and trauma of elderly residents displaced by the storm.

On Monday, Belle Harbor Manor evacuees will again be moved, this time into a facility in Queens Village. Just as Kings Hotel is, the facility is staffed, but extra hands and hearts streamline events like meal times and help make it a relaxing and enjoyable part of their days away from home. We would like to allow volunteers to continue to visit Belle Harbor Manor residents, especially during their transport/transition week beginning Monday, which is very stressful for them. In order to do this, we need help raising money for car services to ferry carfuls of volunteers to and from the location per day from Brooklyn, where all of the volunteers are located. With the holidays approaching your donation is needed more than ever to lend a hand and heart to this forgotten community of wonderful, loving elders in need.

To understand the impact and importance volunteers have had on this population of evacuees, please read a letter (written during one of the writing workshops) posted to the NY Times City Desk from Belle Harbor Manor resident Miriam-Einstein-Drachler, available here.

PLEASE DONATE TO ASSIST IN GETTING VOLUNTEERS RIDES TO ASSIST WITH RESIDENT TRANSITION TO THE NEW FACILITY, WELLNESS PROGRAMS AND FOR CARING VISITS.

To facilitate this, I have created a donation page here.

Thank you, and happy holidays from Belle Harbor Manor and all of the volunteers who have been working with them for the last six weeks!