Helping people thrive through connection.

Rhonda Brunero, BSN, has been administering South County Home Health’s community health checks and evidence-based health workshops for seniors throughout Washington County, parts of Kent County, and Jamestown at senior centers and housing complexes for many years.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a whole new chapter to Rhonda’s service. Almost overnight, her in-home visits turned into phone calls and virtual workshops. Rhonda said, “Immediately, people felt a loss of connection.” Everyone felt like they should be doing something, but many were unsure of what to do. “Patients stopped getting regular exercise because they were instructed to stay home. They turned to comfort food rather than healthy food choices.”

However, Rhonda knew the Community Home Health population was resilient. She figured out a way to keep the connection. “Sometimes it was the smallest thing—a phone call made all the difference.”

The Dime Bank Foundation helped Rhonda and the Community Home Health team facilitate the “Tools for Healthy Living” virtual workshop—a 12-week program to learn and apply new tools to help seniors through rough patches and foster healthy choices. Rhonda shares a story about a gentleman who had just received a diagnosis of a third exacerbation of a brain tumor. “We could see on the screen that his room was dark,” said Rhonda. Other community members listened as the man shared his discouragement. Rhonda worked with the man to make a plan and set goals. After several workshops, the man “opened the shades to let the sunshine in.” “He was coming from a brighter place,” Rhonda said. He began walking outdoors and helping others at his church. Another woman started eating at her table instead of in front of the TV. Another made a goal for basic self-care: getting dressed, brushing her teeth, and washing her face and hair. One tested her blood sugar after snacks and learned which snacks were best for her. All workshop participants reported increasing his or her physical activity in some way. Each person also shared confidence in a long-term goal and the specific steps they would take to reach it.

Rhonda says working with seniors in our South County community is a rich experience. “We all need connection” she says, “and my goal is to help each of them find a way not just to survive but to thrive.”

Annual Report 2020

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Take care of yourself and see your provider.

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