Residents of Fulton Mill Apartments in Fulton recently gathered with representatives from the American Red Cross of Central New York and Catholic Charities of Oswego County to celebrate the first anniversary of the I’m OK program.
An initiative of the American Red Cross, the I’m OK program is a neighbor-to-neighbor program that benefits residents by ensuring that in the event of something happening to them they will receive attention in a timely manner.
Fulton Mill Apartments was the first senior housing facility in Oswego County to implement the I’m OK Program when it was launched Feb. 1, 2011.
“We were happy to bring the I’m OK Program to Fulton Mill Apartments,” said Ann Casey, resident services coordinator. “It is a wonderful program that both our residents and our staff are pleased with. It’s very comforting to know that residents will be checking on residents seven days a week.”
Casey remembered one incident when the I’m OK Program was successful in helping one of the Fulton Mill’s residents.
“A resident on the first floor had fallen during the night. When the monitor checked her door at 10 a.m. the next morning her door hanger was not out,” she recalled. “The monitor then followed procedure, knocking on the door and calling the resident on the telephone. When there was no response the monitor contacted a staff member, who entered the apartment and found the resident lying on the floor.
“While she was conscious, she was hurt,” she added. “Our staff member called 911 and she was taken to the hospital and treated. She was then transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. Her rehabilitation was successful and she is now back at home and living independently again.”
According to Casey, it was ironic that the resident who benefited from the I’m OK Program was one that hesitated using the program.
“This resident had resisted signing up for the I’m OK Program because she found it burdensome having to put the door hanger out every morning,” she noted. “At first she was even putting it out at night, which defeats the purpose. Thank goodness she had not done that the night before her fall. If she had, she would not have been found in a timely manner and the outcome may not have been so successful.”
Susan Pope, emergency services manager with American Red Cross of Central New York, was impressed with the success of the I’m OK Program and the way in which the staff and residents embraced the program.
“As this was a new program for us, we didn’t know what to expect in the first year,” said Pope. “We hoped that we would be able to engage a few residents at one site and then build on that however what we experienced at Fulton Mill was phenomenal. Approximately sixty-percent of the residents are participating and almost twenty residents are serving as volunteer monitors.”
Casey added, “The monitors are the life blood of the I’m Ok Program. Each volunteer underwent extensive training, courtesy of the Red Cross, regarding their responsibilities. Each morning at 10 a.m. our volunteer monitors check their respective floors to make sure that residents participating in the I’m OK Program have put out their I’m OK door hanger. If it is, they remove the door hanger and slide it back under the apartment door. If it is not, they can refer to the card we have provided for them that outlines the proper actions to take.”
Pope added that a large part of the success of the I’m OK Program at Fulton Mill Apartments is the willingness of the Fulton Mill administration to fully support the program and the infectious enthusiasm of program Coordinator Jezanna Osier and Head Monitor Betty Wells.
The presence of the I’M OK Program at Fulton Mill Apartments was made possible through a collaborative effort with Fidelis Health Care, which provided funding for the program, and Catholic Charities of Oswego County, which helped bring the I’m OK Program to the Fulton Mill Apartments and served as the conduit between Fidelis Health Care and the Red Cross.
As the I’m OK Program celebrates its first anniversary, Danielle Hayden, director of the Oswego Branch of American Cross of Central New York, envisions a strong future for the program in Oswego County.
“In addition to Fulton Mill Apartments the I’m OK Program is also in place at St. Luke Apartments in Oswego and we are reaching out to other senior housing residences in Oswego County,” said Hayden.
“The success of the I’m OK Program is a great example of how staff and residents are able to work together to add a simple yet effective program that provides a non-intrusive level of reassurance that helps our seniors live independently.”