Fisher House Retools to Accommodate Frontline Medical Workers


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ROCKVILLE, MD - A foundation that has supported military families for over 25 years by hosting their loved ones in a comfort home while they receive treatment at military and VA hospitals, is now expanding their role to take in frontline medical workers under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fisher House Foundation has built 87 Fisher Houses adjacent military hospitals around the world and is still providing services, despite the pandemic.

“Life still happens, there are babies being born, and [there are] babies that need spend a few days in the NICU and people are still dealing with cancer and those issues,” Dave Coker, President of the Fisher House Foundation told 104.7 WONK FM’s Jen Richer.

In many cases though, the houses are retooling to accommodate frontline workers.

“In dealing with the COVID-19 situation, the first step many of the hospitals took was restrict visitors and so the workload is reduced in terms of the number of families we’re helping right now, but in some of those locations, what they’ve done is said, ‘you know we’ve got this resource, let’s take our well staff, who may have family at home who are compromised, maybe they’re augmenting their staff to meet the needs of that facility,’ and the Fisher House is supporting them,” Coker explained.

In Boston, Massachusetts, the VA Medical Center West Roxbury Campus is doing just that and is now home to 19 medical professionals while they fight on the frontlines.

“We received a great message from one of them, thanking us for the opportunity, because they had somebody at home who was immunocompromised, and working in the hospital, the last thing they want to do, is bring it back to their loved one,” Coker said.

In many locations, Fisher House is continuing the mission to keep military families close to their loved ones as they receive treatment at VA and military hospitals. But precautions at many hospitals have limited or eliminated the number of visitors allowed into the hospitals, and the Fisher Houses have also had to reduce the capacity of the houses to maintain social distancing.

Coker says that hasn’t reduced the need to support those families, “to give them that peace of mind, the knowledge that there is a home they have, that they can go to …we are in the blessing business, sometimes how you define that is going to change depending on the circumstances you face.”

Coker has spend nearly four decades committed to the mission of the organization, “allowing families to become part of the healing process, because to get the necessary care, many times you have to go someplace that’s far from home.”

There are now 87 Fisher Houses worldwide that have been donated to the military, and they are always looking for assistance to keep the program strong.

Listen to the full interview here:

Dave Coker

WAYS TO HELP:

  1. Adopt a Veteran - With many VA nursing homes and assisted living facilities reducing or eliminating the number of visitors allowed to maintain social distancing requirements, many veterans are facing isolation from their families. You can volunteer to be connected via Facebook or WhatsApp with a veteran help bring some comfort virtually.
  2. Donate Gift Cards - Many of the Fisher Houses welcome community groups to cook for the families staying at the houses, but with social distancing protocols limiting visitors, you can still help provide meals by donating restaurant and grocery gift cards.
  3. Donate Airline Miles - Help the Fisher House Foundation provide airline tickets to wounded, injured, and ill service members, veterans, and their families in support of their continued recovery process
  4. Donate To Fisher House’s Mission - Many of the Fisher House are continuing to provide service to military families and donations help support that mission.

Visit FisherHouse.org