Beginning on March 27, New York State required that all prescriptions be filed electronically by doctors or medical personnel.  This provision was passed in legislation a few years back to better control and track narcotic use; however, it was delayed in implementation after hospitals and medical personnel said they needed more time to implement it.  Many doctors and hospitals have already made the change now.

A recent report in The New York Times said that one result of the change to electronic prescribing is that doctors may prescribe more standard medications that they know are going to be in stock rather than have to spend time writing a different prescription if the one they prescribed is not available.  Patients will also have to say which pharmacies they want the prescriptions sent to.

Health records continue to be moved into the electronic realm.   Hospitals and doctors’ practices are setting up patient portals for patients to access their medical records, appointments, test results, and even send messages to their health-care practitioners.  Some patients have balked though because of the highly publicized theft of data from insurance companies like Anthem.

As care becomes more coordinated, doctors, hospitals, and other providers want to have access to a patient’s records if several are providing treatment in the same network.   The medical providers  and their patients will be able to easily access the list of medications a patient is taking along with test results and notes from a visit to other medical providers.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services, including transportation, and caregiver support at no charge to residents in Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.  To find out more about our services or our volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call (518) 456-2898.

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— Photo by Greg Goutos
All smiles: James Gray, a Guilderland honors student, serves a drink to Omni resident Elsa Butrym.

Community Caregivers hosted a special Italian-style dinner for the residents of the Omni Senior Living Community on Carman Road in Guilderland on March 19.  The community room was filled with smiles and laughter, as the residents gathered for this annual event.

This was the 15th year the event has been held, and this year students from the Guilderland High School National Honor Society were on hand to help serve the dinner.  Over 60 residents from the Omni attended.

The event was sponsored by Community Caregivers, a Guilderland-based, not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services to Albany County residents by matching local volunteers with nearby clients.   

The community room was decorated to reflect the theme for this year’s dinner, which was “You Are the Stars.”  Over the years, there has developed a great fondness between those who have helped organize and serve the dinner, and the many residents of the Omni who look forward to attending it year after year.

Many comment that it is one of the highlights of the year for those at the Omni.  This year’s theme echoed the feeling that the seniors are truly stars in the eyes of the event organizers; however, the appreciation for those involved with sponsoring the dinner is also very evident.

The evening began with welcoming comments, and then a brief overview of the types of services and programs that Community Caregivers offers.  It was noted that several in attendance have either served as volunteer providers for the organization, or as clients that receive direct services.  Community Caregivers was founded in Altamont in 1994, and has offices located at 2021 Western Ave. in Guilderland.Altamont in 1994, and has offices located at 2021 Western Ave. in Guilderland.

A special highlight of the evening was celebrating the tremendous efforts of the Quinn family who have organized all the details for the event for many years.  The Guilderland family has been involved with the dinner for more than 10 years, and parents Suzanne and Kevin have inspired their two teenage boys to take the lead during that time.

Sean and Conor have developed into truly remarkable young men who are shining as examples of what it means to serve as volunteers in their community.  Since Sean will soon be graduating from Guilderland High School and going off to college, Community Caregivers wanted to take this opportunity to thank them by presenting both Sean and Conor with framed certificates of appreciation.  As the two were congratulated when receiving their honors, those in attendance enthusiastically applauded as they recalled watching them both grow up over the years.

After the dessert was served, the evening’s festivities continued with the random drawing of prizes, all of which were donated by local businesses.  Excitement was in the air as the lucky recipients waited to hear if their names would be called, and to enjoy a gift presented to them by one the members of the National Honor Society.  Others at their tables were fortunate to take home the centerpiece vases, which were filled with decorative stars attached to flower stems to reflect the theme of the event.

A special thank-you goes to the 13 volunteers who participated, including student, Sean and Conor Quinn, Alec Betancourt, Jason Falvo, James Gray, Hayli Bazan, Catherine Seita, and Mohona Sengupta.  Adult volunteers included Suzanne and Kevin Quinn, and Nellie and Greg Goutos.  Mary McGann, a resident of the Omni, deserves special recognition for once again serving as the site coordinator.

All the food for the dinner was generously donated by several area restaurants.  Special thanks to:  The 99 Restaurant on Wolf Road, Bountiful Bread, Ciao Italia Restaurant, Paesan’s Pizza, TGI Fridays, Milano Pizza, Via Fresca Italian Gourmet Market, and Marotta’s Towne Pizza.  Also, Price Chopper, ShopRite and Hannaford Supermarkets.  And to Stewart’s for donating the ice cream for dessert.

Prizes were donated by the following local businesses:  Carman Wine & Liquor, Candy Kraft, Robinson’s Hardware, The Pottery Place, Bamboo Restaurant, and The Altamont Enterprise.

For more information about Community Caregivers, please contact the office at 456-2898, or online at communitycaregivers.org.

Editor’s note: Greg Goutos is a longtime Community Caregivers volunteer.

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Most junior and senior boys are studying for the new SATs, waiting to hear from colleges, trying to find jobs, and maybe figuring out who they want  to take to the junior prom and the senior ball. Conor, and Sean Quinn, 16 and 18 respectively, are doing all these things plus one other pretty big activity: They’re in charge of putting together a pasta dinner for 50.

The dinner is for the residents at the Omni Senior Living Community in Guilderland on March 19. And for the last three to four months the brothers have done all the work.

They begin by contacting Community Caregivers who sponsor the dinner and prepare the letters the boys send out to vendors for raffle items, decoration materials, and the food: salads, rolls and butter, pasta with sauce, and desserts. Any furniture, silverware, trays, etc. come from Altamont Reformed Church where Greg Goutos, a longtime volunteer with Community Caregivers,  has connections

This year, four or five  students from the Guilderland High School Honor Society  will help serve. Tyler Mazone, clarinetist, has asked the boys if he can provide entertainment.

Conor says, “Tyler is a happy, upbeat person, full of enthusiasm. We like people like this — happy — to be a part of the event.

The boys’ mom, Suzanne Quinn, says her sons have been in charge for the last two to three years, and she’s very proud of that fact.

As Conor reflects on the work they do, he says some parts are hard. “Lots of businesses give to a lot of organizations. They don’t all say, ‘Yes, we’d love to help.’ We do what we have to do.

But, he says he isn’t discouraged. Sean explained that the day before the dinner the tables and chairs, table settings, decorations — all the physical stuff — are dealt with.  The day-of, they spend time getting the food and getting it heated. And, yes, Mom makes meatballs and extra sauce.

What do these guys do for work and fun and what are their future plans? Sean does odd jobs such as walking dogs and mowing lawns. And, he’s a scuba diver. Two years ago, he went to Bali and, aside from diving, he also taught kids English for three weeks in July. As a senior, he’s waiting to hear from colleges and is interested in history.

“History has always fascinated me,” he said. He wants to make history “usable, applicable. Why does this matter?”

Conor does a lot of volunteer work. At Whispering Willows Wild Care, he helps animals get back into the wild. He mentioned hawks, owls, and kestrels as a few of the creatures the organization has rehabbed. But he’ll do anything there like providing water, cleaning cages, talking to them.

“I love to bond,” he adds.

Since he was 15, he’s volunteered  at Homeward Bound in Schenectady. This place helps dogs get adopted, and he does whatever they ask him to do.  Right now, he’s hoping to get his real first time job at a doggie day-care business. And you guessed it, for his future he’s looking at a career dealing with animals.

When the boys began their connection with this dinner, they were  “unofficial mascots.” They went around hugging people and being cute. As they grew older, they talked with the residents and listened to their stories.

Sean says, “I’ve always loved storytelling because it’s entertaining and a good way to connect with people.”

As the years went on and he got to know the people, he realized the residents were part of his community and also his friends

“It feels good.” And he concludes, “Satisfaction comes from helping people.”

Conor says now that they’re older, one of the responsibilities he and his brother take on is seeing that the Omni  residents are comfortably seated. Some are in wheelchairs so the boys help them get situated.

He says, “We try to make sure everyone is comfortable and well fed.” As with the animals he works with, Conor likes to bond with people, too. “I like to  help people and make them smile.”

Community Caregivers has been fortunate to have this family as volunteers. With Sean off to college next year, he can’t predict  his involvement with the dinner. What we can predict is these two guys will move through life with some pretty strong volunteering skills and love of helping their neighbors.  Mom has taught her sons well.

 

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The 15th annual Italian Night is taking place this year on St. Patrick’s Day. For the last 12 or so years, the Quinn family has been intricately involved: Mom, Dad, Sean, and Conor.

When the family started, Suzanne Quinn said, “Conor, the little person, gave hugs. Sean would help with passing things out.” She estimates the boys were about 4 and 6. Today the boys do everything.

The Quinn family started with Community Caregivers when there was Caregivers Kids. Suzanne said there was also  a song, “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills and Nash  that inspired her.

She went on, “Community Caregivers provides services to the community, but I felt strongly children should give back, from the get go.”

So the boys were pen pals , through 4H, with a resident at Kingsway. And then they got involved with Caregivers Kids where they raked lawns and did odd jobs for families.

When the time was right, the family became involved  with the annual pasta dinner at the Omni in Guilderland. Today, they practically, really, do it all.

They have help. The Guilderland High School Key Club has helped. This year the high school’s Honor Society will help. The members of the organization serve the dinners

The Quinn boys and their family set the tables, make decorations, get the room set up, and do all the leg work for donations of food and prizes for drawings. Suzanne said her role in recent years is to give advice mostly dealing with getting started two to three months out.

“Go early,” she tells her sons. “You have a better chance of getting people involved.”

The theme this year is “You are the stars.” During the spring break, the boys made the decorations.

In the past, they have asked other groups in the community to get involved. One year, Westmere Elementary made the decorations.  Last year, a friend of the boys volunteered to play music during the dinner.

Suzanne said, when her family took over the event, her intention was to make it a party “of who they (the residents) are and what they’ve contributed.” She added, “The  relationship you make with the folks is more valuable than the activity itself.”

That song, “Teach your Children Well,”  convinced Suzanne she wanted her boys “connecting with the world. If we start small, it’ll grow bigger, the contributions and the sense of community.”

Next week, you’ll hear from Conor and Sean, now 16 and 18,  and how they handle the annual pasta dinner. Suzanne and her husband have every right to be proud. Community Caregivers is proud, too, that this family takes on  this activity.

The CC staff provides letters for vendors and follow-up thank-you letters. It should be noted that Greg and Nellie Goutos are also involved with the dinner. Greg is a past Acting Executive Director of Caregivers, a former board member, and member of the Finance Committee,  and a longtime direct service  volunteer.

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Community Caregivers Inc. is hosting a workshop series to help individuals and family caregivers understand and navigate the changing world of health care. It’s called the Health Engagement and Literacy Project (HELP).

Expert panelists and guest presenters will offer important information for older adults, family members, and advocates on the following topics:

-- Friday, Feb. 26: Trend and Patient Rights gives an overview of developments in the healthcare landscape shaping new directions in patients’ role in their care. Patient rights include your rights as a hospital patient and accessing your medical records. The guest presenter is from the Statewide Senior Action Council;

-- Friday, March 11: Talking with Your Doctor explains how to communicate effectively with health-care professionals. The program will be presented by the Community Caregivers team, including an Albany Medical College student volunteer.

-- Friday, April 8: Hospital to Home -- Part One. The first part on transitions covers what every patient and caregiver need to know for successful hospital discharge. The program will be presented by a guest expert panel and includes an overview of New York’s new Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act.

-- Friday, April 22: Hospital to Home -- Part Two. The second part on transitions covers what happens once you are home from the hospital, to plan for a successful recuperation. The session will be conducted by a guest expert panel.

-- Friday, May 6: Advance Health Care Directives covers planning to make choices that are right for you. The session will go over how to choose a healthcare representative to ensure that wishes for your care are known and honored. The guest speaker will be announced later.

All sessions will begin at 10 a.m. at the Hampton Inn (formerly Holiday Inn Express) at 1442 Western Ave. The one-hour sessions are free to attend, but advance registration is required. Please call 456-2898 to register or for more information.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services, including transportation, and caregiver support at no charge to residents in Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors. To find out more about our services or our volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call 456-2898. Editor’s note: Linda Miller is the Outreach and Education coordinator at Community Caregivers.

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