CLAREMORE, Okla.— For 30 years, the Claremore Veterans Center has been caring for Oklahoma veterans in their last years and those with long-term mental health issues.
“Claremore Veterans Center is a home for veterans, it’s not a hospital,” says Veterans Service Officer, Les Rouell. “It’s for long-term care. Veterans, both wartime and peace-time, stay here for long-term healthcare, they can no longer live at their house due to health reasons.”
As the Veterans Service Officer, Rouell , an Air Force veterans, is responsible for helping the veterans make sure they are receiving all the VA benefits they’re entitled to, helping them file the proper paperwork to get them what the need and helping clear up issues that could disrupt their benefits.
The Claremore Veterans Center opened its doors as a 250-bed facility, taking in its first 75 residents in 1988. In 2001, a new 52-bed Special needs unit was opened making the now 302-bed facility the largest in the state.
The Claremore Veterans Center utilizes Osteopathic medical treatments, focusing on the “whole person” approach to patient care. Osteopathic medicine goes beyond simple symptomatology, considering the patients environment and lifestyle factors into their illness, and likewise their treatment.
The Veterans Center has a full-time medical staff of two Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine and two Nurse Practitioners. The nursing staff is comprised of 21 Registered Nurses (RN), 49 Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), 123 Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and 58 Certified Medical Assistants (CMA). The Center also features fully staffed food service facilities and dietary service, social workers, and recreation services.
“Of all the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) homes, Claremore has the biggest ward for people with cognitive issues, where they can be taken care of safely,” says Rouell. “We also have the most veterans with diabetes and kidney problems, needing dialysis. Those are two areas we tend to specialize in.”
The Claremore Veterans Center also has a large recreation program featuring activities including, community outings and shopping, a library including a wide variety of media and materials, social events, art and craft creation workshop and classes, individual and group games, a chapel with weekly church services, outdoor gardens, pond and visiting areas and entertainment programs.
“For residents who have graduated from therapy and restorative programs, recreation participation can assist in maintaining level of functioning,” says Recreation Director, Monique DiLonardo. “Involvement in recreation is a great opportunity to extend endurance, tolerance and strength. All programs can be adapted to meet physical or cognitive needs. There are abundant opportunities to do interesting things.”
The Claremore Veterans Center also provides numerous opportunities for community volunteers.
“Our volunteers play a big role in our Veterans’ daily routine,” says Administrator, Amy Hammet. “Assisting our veterans to the dining area and creating a supportive, pleasant, and caring environment, offering assistance and a friendly face during their dining experience, in our craft room, in our clothing room.”
Unfortunately the Center has seen a decline in volunteers over the years and is always seeking new recruits.
“We need volunteers to help with year round gardening opportunities, nature trails to explore, field trips, fishing, kite flying, horse shoes, and birds,” says Hammet. “Our goal is to have volunteers on all the wards participating side by side with our recreational staff, providing therapeutic activities where they will enjoy close interaction with our veterans.”
Hammet encourages everyone to tell their family, friends, churches, and organizations to check out their volunteer program.
“We can accommodate anyone’s schedule and commitments,” says Hammet. “We want every day to be “Veteran’s Day” at the Claremore Veteran’s Center.”
For information about admissions and upcoming events at the Claremore Veterans Center go to https://odva.ok.gov/content/claremore.
For additional information, call 918-342-5432 . The Claremore Veterans Center is located at W. Blue Starr Drive, Claremore, OK 74018-0988 (next to the Rogers State University Diamond Sports Complex).