Top notch volunteer

Michelson recognized for years of helping out After 27 years of teaching at Buffalo Lake Public School, Eleanor Michelson has been making a positive impact in the lives of residents at the Buffalo Lake Healthcare Center. For her nearly 20 years with the residents at the Healthcare center, Eleanor was recently acknowledged nationally as a Volunteer Advocate. Last year she did over 200 hours of volunteer time and made about 800 visits to residents. The nomination letter for Eleanor from the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care said she was “Doing so much, for so many, for so long.” The letter went on to say: Eleanor visits often and constantly communicates with residents as to how their needs and wishes are being met. As Mark Rust, the administrator, said, “One of Eleanor’s many strengths is her ability to be persistent in resolving concerns and yet at the same time doing so in a manner that does not make the staff defensive.” Eleanor is known to have a “can do” spirit and a “let’s get it done” attitude. Eleanor just coordinated a “This is My Life” project in which she organized seven community volunteers to visit almost 60 residents and collect their life histories. Each story is featured on a bulletin board and later compiled into a binder for all to read and enjoy. Eleanor’s project has helped caregivers and residents create an environment of mutual respect and honor of each individual. Eleanor and her husband, Marvin were honored by the state ombudsman office for their 15 years of service in 2007. “Eleanor and Marvin Michelson make a significant and positive impact in the lives of residents at Buffalo Lake Healthcare Center where they have served as Volunteer Advocates since Dec., 1992. Their nursing home has 49 skilled nursing facility beds, attached assisted living units and attached apartments. They visit residents throughout the continuum of care offered by this city-owned (pop. 768) and community supported facility,” said Regional Ombudsman, Ann Holme. Due to health concerns, Marvin has not been involved as a volunteer since 2006. Marvin is retired from the post office after 30 years of service in which 25 of those years were as Postmaster. They have three sons, Ross, Brad and Paul. All three are married and have reared three children. Eleanor and Marvin have also been blessed with nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Eleanor was hired as an elementary teacher in Buffalo Lake in 1945. Her first 5 years she taught the fifth grade. She met her husband-to-be two months after she started teaching and then in 1947 she married Marvin and took a leave of absence for 16 years from teaching to raise their three sons. The school principal sent her an invitation asking her to come back and teach part time. “The teaching position ended up being a time-and-a-half job,” Eleanor said jokingly. “(I) taught for another 25 years as a Title One teacher and worked with individuals and groups in math and reading mainly, all the way from kindergarten through high school,” she said. “I enjoyed that experience tremendously.” She retired from teaching in 1989. Another volunteer job she has undertaken since 1993 is recruiting volunteers to deliver meals to senior citizens in the Buffalo Lake area. “I arrange volunteers for the months of April and November. I’ll be calling now to get the volunteers for 2012. The volunteers are very willing and cooperative. They enjoy bringing the meals to the shut-ins. They also serve to breakup the day for those who cannot get out. It is important for the recipients to receive the nutrition and the volunteers to feel needed,” she stated. In closing,  Holme  said “I was fortunate to inherit a wonderful team of Volunteer Advocates including the Michelsons. I echo the sentiments already expressed and can add that Eleanor is noteworthy for being extremely thorough in her monthly activity report duties. Eleanor and Marvin go above and beyond the ‘usual’ Volunteer Advocate standards with regards to serving residents and tenants. I appreciate everything they do — and I know the elders do, too!” What is an ombudsman? Ombudsman is a Swedish word that means ‘Citizen Representative’. An Ombudsman acts on behalf of people who need assistance in advocating their own cause. The Ombudsman offers free-of-charge and confidential assistance to citizens. The Ombudsman is an independent government official responsible for working with consumers, concerned citizens, nursing homes, hospitals, housing with services providers, adult foster care homes, home care agencies, and public agencies to enhance the quality of care and quality of life of older individuals receiving health care services. • Investigates concerns from consumers or others on their behalf relating to their rights, services and benefits. • Mediates disputes between consumers and hospitals, nursing homes, boarding care homes, adult foster care homes, home care agencies and public agencies. • Advocates for consumers when their rights have been violated or they are not receiving the proper care or assistance. • Provides information and educational programs to consumers, families, staff, volunteers, and concerned citizens about consumer rights, laws and regulations of health care or home care services, services to consumers and current issues. • Advocates for reforms in the health care and the social services to better meet consumer needs. For more information on serving as an Ombudsman volunteer, call 1-800-657-3591.

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