Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
New balcony offers views for Patriot's Harbor Vets
Residents in Patriot’s Harbor, commonly known as the Community Living Center (CLC), on Charleston VAMC’s fourth floor have a new balcony to cheer about. The 445-square foot balcony provides a view of parts of Bee Street and a glimpse of the Charleston Harbor. The new addition to Patriot’s Harbor is an impressive architectural achievement for the medical center, but its meaning to residents is exponentially greater.
The balcony provides these Veterans, and others, with something they once didn’t have—the freedom to simply go outside. This freedom is greatly appreciated among the residents—especially those whose view of the outdoors was limited to a window.
“Some CLC residents have lost the ability to travel in elevators or navigate Charleston VAMC’s busy hallways, making a trip outside unpractical,” said CLC recreational therapist Cindy Ingels. “The balcony offers residents a chance to get outside for some fresh air while providing a safe and private environment.”
Marine Corps Veteran Paul Reed spends as much time on the balcony as he can. Reed suffered from a stroke and has been confined indoors since December 2012. His days are now spent watching the goings on at the intersection of Bee Street and Bravo Street, rooftop construction or whatever else is going on outside. The view of bustling Charleston stands in sharp contrast to the days Reed spent indoors. Reed’s stroke may have affected his ability to verbally communicate but there is no mistaking the joy he radiates from spending time outdoors.
Navy Veteran David Hottenstein enjoys watching construction workers as they labor on the medical center roof.
The new balcony features a roof enabling the fixture to be an all-weather experience for Veterans. Residents can metaphorically dance, or get their groove on, in the rain. And, since the balcony is located on the fourth floor and out of sight from most people, residents can do their dance like no one is watching.
In the near future, a live wall will be installed on the balcony and provide residents with an opportunity to grow plants and use gardening as a type of therapy. The live wall will be watered by its own irrigation system so residents don’t have to stress over the responsibility of taking care of the plant—only to enjoy the feeling of gardening.