Caring Kids Bring Joy to Long-term Care Residents

Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Residents of Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s (NGMC) long term care facilities, New Horizons Limestone and Lanier Park, received gifts from special visitors last week thanks to the generosity of Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) employees and a grant from the NGHS Foundation.

Chris Brechtel, manager of long-term care rehabilitation for NGMC, was watching the news with his daughter when they saw a segment about a girl named Ruby Chitsey from Arkansas who grants wishes to nursing home residents. She talks with each resident and asks them what they would want if they could have any three things.

“My nine-year-old daughter, Madeline, asked if we could do something similar with our patients at New Horizons, and I thought it was a fantastic idea,” said Brechtel. “I decided to apply for a Change Grant from the NGHS Foundation and was granted $5,000 to see this project come to life.”

The caring kids’ project was made possible by the Change Grants program – a vision to further engage NGHS employees by creating a vehicle for them to identify areas where they would like to improve the health system. Employees are able to submit applications for projects designed to enhance the patient experience, improve employee morale or impact patient-family satisfaction, and those selected are granted funding through WATCH, the employee giving club of the NGHS Foundation.

Over 20 children of NGHS employees and their friends visited the facilities on July 23 to interview the residents and ask them what items they wished for. Hundreds of items were purchased and distributed by the children when they returned on July 31. A wide variety of items were given out – snacks, blankets, board games, makeup, etc. – but the true gift was the time the children spent talking with the residents.

“This project has not only blessed our residents but has also shown our kids so much about life,” said Becky Lesko, an occupational therapist for NGMC’s long term care facilities. “At the end of the day, it’s the companionship that makes people happy, and sometimes the smallest gestures can mean the most.”