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HOUSE CALLS LET VETS REMAIN IN THEIR HOMES

The VA makes house calls.

Formally known as Home-Based Primary Care, the program serves nearly 200 military veterans within a 30-mile radius of the Department of Veterans Affairs' Western New York Healthcare System facilities in Buffalo and Batavia.

A staff including a physician, nurse practitioners, nurses, a social worker, dietitian and physical therapist will visit the homes of patients who have difficulty getting out because of disabilities or other medical problems.

Nurse Mary Ann Yates, program director, calls it a "clinic on wheels."

The goal, said Yates, "is to prevent or delay possible placement in a nursing home as well as to decrease the incidence of hospitalizations."

Two Navy veterans of World War II, Edward and Lottie Komasara of Buffalo, said they look forward to the monthly visits of nurse Judith Darrell.

"This is a wonderful service. She's like part of the family," said Edward Komasara, who maintained landing craft while stationed in the Pacific.

Lottie Komasara, who served as a payroll technician at DeLand Naval Base, Fla., agreed.

"This has been very good for us," she said. "Judy gives us a checkup and then our medicines are sent right to the house."

Prevention is a major goal, Darrell said.

"We can pick up on problems before they become major ones," she said. "And we take time to give our patients and their caregivers the teaching they need and help them with their coping skills."

The program also has a Caregivers Support Group that meets monthly.

Yates explained that each veteran is given a comprehensive assessment of his or her functional and environmental needs.

"We will assess whether a patient can benefit from additional adaptive equipment in the home, like shower bars or tub chairs, and we'll supply them.

"We do our best to help our patients maintain maximum health independence in their own home, which is really where they want to be," she said.

She is available to provide further information on the program by calling 862-8858.

"KEEPING THE PROMISE" is a monthly feature of The Buffalo News. Veterans' questions can be answered by calling the VA Hospital at 862-8888.

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