Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Medical Foster Home
On Larry Webb's first day on Earth, he was wrapped in a blanket, warm and soft, watched over by the people who cared most about him in the world.
The same was true on his last day, thanks to the VA Medical Foster Home program.
Mr. Webb was in the first group of patients to move into a Medical Foster Home (MFH) through the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. The MFH program connects Veterans with medical and housing needs with caregivers who are willing to open their homes and provide them with care and love.
Before his placement, Mr. Webb was living in a camper, which was sold, and then with a friend, who moved away. He had no family to turn to. He had many medical problems and nowhere to go. That's when Mr. Webb met the MFH coordinators and his new caregiver, Rose Doctor. Ms. Doctor set up a room in her home in Berkeley County and welcomed Mr. Webb as a member of her family. She provided his care and cooked his meals. They watched movies together and spent Christmas morning next to the fireplace. Ms. Doctor was there with him every day, and sat with him as his health began to decline. He was loved, and he was not alone.
Mr. Webb passed away in February 2015. Ms. Doctor was by his side, and he was wrapped in one of his favorite possessions – a United States Marine Corps blanket that he received for Christmas. Before he died, he wrote a letter to VA officials to say thank you for his new home.
"This Christmas dinner was the first one I have had with a family since 1968 and I was overwhelmed with joy," he wrote. "It brings tears to my eyes when I talk about it. It has been since 1968 that I sat with family for (dinner)."
"You all have changed my life and gave it back to me. I did not want to spend the rest of my life in a nursing home. And for that I will always be thankful."
Many people like Mr. Webb would prefer to be cared for in a home environment rather than a skilled nursing facility. VA Medical Foster Homes offer such an alternative. These homes are rented or owned by a caregiver, who lives there and provides personal care to a Veteran. These Veterans also receive medical care from a Home-Based Primary Care or Spinal Cord Injury team. Eligible Veterans must meet nursing home level of care, meaning they are not able to live independently due to their chronic disabling conditions. Caregivers receive compensation from the Veterans, and are trained and supervised to provide the appropriate level of care.
For more information about the VA Medical Foster Home program, or to refer potential caregivers or Veterans, contact program coordinator Natasha Simeon-Major, LISW-CP, at 843-789-7071.