Volunteers spruce up gazebos to aid nursing home residents


ONEIDA — OneGroup employees showed up with paint brushes in hand this week at the Oneida Health Extended Care and Rehabilitation Center (ECF), ready to get to work bringing two gazebos some new life.

The volunteer effort was originally set for earlier in the month as OneGroup’s Day of Caring project, but was rained out. With sun on their side, over 15 OneGroup employees came out to the ECF Tuesday to apply a fresh coat of stain to two gazebos looking a little worse for ware.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated how important it is to connect with loved ones face-to-face in comfortable settings. Convienetly within walking distance of ECF, the gazebos serve as an outdoor visitation and social space for nursing home residents and patients.

Pandemic limitations kept the gazebos out of use for over two years, officials said. At the same time, upkeep of the structures fell to the wayside.

Now, after a little freshening up, the gazebos can finally get some use as some restrictions have lifted and warmer weather arrives.

Kate Trombley, director of the Oneida Health Foundation, stated, “Exciting projects like this have a long-term positive effect on the ECF residents and patients in rehabilitation.”

“With stricter visitation policies and isolation due to their age and frailty, opportunities to spend time with others has been limited to none. Yet, they are extremely important to meet the psychosocial needs of those in rehabilitation or long-term care,” Trombley said.

“Completion of this project will offer an outdoor option for residents to spend time with their loved ones,” the foundation director added.

Prior to lightened restrictions, ECF residents utilized iPads for video or had “window visits” with an intercom to ensure that the elderly, frail, and those with high-risk for morbidity were at less risk to contract the virus, according to Oneida Health officials.

“[Oneida Health] is a wonderful organization, and whatever we can possibly do to provide some help and some assistance, we’re happy to do it,” said Robin Lovitz, vice president at OneGroup.

“Everyone is very excited to be here” to volunteer, she added.


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