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SAIL discusses tools and programs

By Staff | Jun 26, 2015

Richard Womeldorf and Christina Johnson from Panhandle Home Health were the guest speakers at last week’s Shepherdstown Independent Living (SAIL) brown bag lunch.

Womeldorf, a Shepherdstown resident, spoke to members about the technology he uses to help manage visual, auditory and mobility challenges.

Womeldorf retired from a career in field service management, after a series strokes and is now wheelchair bound.

“I have been in a wheelchair for 10 years,” he said.

Though he faces challenges Womeldorf has simplified his life with several technologies he recommend to the group.

Visual impairment, a common issue for aging groups, was one topic of discussion.

Large print books, magnifiers screen readers like JAWS and audiobook are all options for those who suffer from low vision or blindness.

Womeldorf also listed options for wheelchairs and gave extended attention to providing examples of different alert technologies seniors can use.

He uses a cellphone called ‘Snapfon,’ which offers large buttons and numbers, enhanced speakers, a speaking keypad and a flashlight.

“(It’s) about the most visible phone on the market for the visually impaired,” he said.

Additionally the phone can serve as an alert system in times of need, through its sosPLUS mobile feature that connects users to 24/7 emergency response contacts.

Womeldorf, who can be seen visiting the post office downtown with his greyhound, said his dog also assists him in daily life.

“If I’m in trouble, he alerts me. He’s my eyes,” he said.

Christina Johnson discussed the services Panhandle Home Health offers area residents.

According to Johnson, the nonprofit ‘medically directed facility,’ that provides several services to those who require sometimes long term care after a hospital stay.

Home Health provides anything from physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, a social worker, nutritional counseling, certified home health aids.

“They have a caretaker. They have a loved one at home who can take care of them,” she said.

Johnson explained that contrary to popular belief, the organization works with all age groups, though more than 55 percent of all their patrons are seniors.

Though many home care options are affiliated with hospitals, Panhandle Home Health works independently with over 50 staff members.

Johnson said the benefits for home care are various: personal freedom for the patient, less issues with mobility and transport, less exposure to other ill people and even improved recovery.

At Friday’s lunch Johnson shared some new programs the organization is offering. One is ‘Bridge,’ which provides an avenue for continuity of care for patients who are transitioning from therapy to hospice.

“There’s that gap,” she said. “We can bring that next step for the person.”

Another new service is an equipment loan program, that has taken donated items and refurbished them for redistribution to those in need.

Equipment includes things like wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, shower chairs and stools, portable commodes, hospital beds and stair lifts, among others.

Johnson said needed medical equipment can be expensive and difficult to replace.

“Sometimes your insurance won’t pay for all of them,” she said.

“It’s a really sad situation when people don’t have what they need,” she said.

Johnson said the organization continues to look for donations and volunteers for the program.

To find more information about Home Health call them at 304-263-5680.

To learn more about SAIL visit their web page at www.shepherdstownsail.org.

Or contact them at info@shepherdstownsail.org with questions.