Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Medical Foster Home Vet celebrates 94th birthday
Gospel hymns and smiling faces filled the fellowship hall at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on Friday, Jan. 20, for a surprise 94th birthday party to honor U.S. Navy Veteran Freddie Young. The celebration was arranged by his Medical Foster Home (MFH) Caregiver Rose Doctor along with members of the church.
"I didn't know they were going to have this surprise party for me,” said Young. “It’s a good day! I'm just happy!"
Young was living independently until 2016 when he had a fall, followed by a stay in a rehab facility to heal from his injuries. The rehab facility recommended that he not return to living alone because of his ongoing fall risk; he is also diagnosed with mild dementia.
Through home-based primary care (HBPC), Young was referred to MFH, a program of certified private homes in which a trained caregiver provides services to Veterans. Because he was already being closely monitored in HBPC he was able to quickly be transitioned into MFH maintaining his continuity of care. In November 2016, he was placed with Doctor.
“It’s Mr. Young’s number one saying – ‘I feel good’ and that changed my attitude,” said Doctor during the celebration. “He always speaks in the positive. I consider him my angel and he makes my household complete.”
Doctor was the first MFH caregiver in Charleston to have two Veterans placed in her home. She also cares for 77-year-old U.S. Air Force Veteran Thomas Mungin who is blind. New state legislation passed in June 2016 allowed for this increase in in-home care capacity for MFH, dependent on the proper space available in the caregiver’s home. This new provision allowed for immediate expansion of the program without having to add additional caregivers.
Because of the type of care that is provided in the MFH program, the vetting process for new homes and caregivers is extensive and can take some time to get new caregivers onboard.
“At the time we had three Veterans who were in immediate need of placement and with the new legislation, we were able to get them all into a home and cared for almost right away,” said MFH Coordinator Natasha Simeon-Major. “They’re like one big happy family at Ms. Doctor’s house.”
During the party, Young was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Goose Creek, signed by Mayor Michael J. Heitzler. The certificate wished him a happy birthday and recognized his military service and service to the City of Goose Creek as a long-time active member in the community.
One of the church deacons described Young as “a lovely, kind man who never has spoken a negative word about anyone.” Other members of the church thanked Ms. Doctor for taking such good care of their beloved friend.
For more information about the Charleston VAMC Medical Foster Home program, or to refer potential caregivers or Veterans, contact program coordinator Natasha Simeon-Major, LISW-CP, at 843-789-7071.