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Senior Center dedicated to community service

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM The staff at the Senior Center work diligently to address the abundant, complex needs of their community's senior citizens from daily meals to basic health care requirements.

Last week's annual Health Expo illustrated the center's commitment to providing quality care for their seniors as over 50 vendors from all over the Pioneer Valley participated in the event.

"We take great pride in the community service we do for our seniors," Joan Linnehan, director of the Agawam Senior Center, said. "We want our seniors to have the best up-to-date resources possible."

Linnehan added that while the Senior Center provides some basic services for the seniors, such as monthly glucose checks and foot care, and bimonthly hearing and blood pressure checks, the Health Expo allows those attending the opportunity to gain knowledge about the most basic to complex health care needs.

She added that the new Senior Center, currently under construction on Main Street will provide the seniors with even more health care programs as well as an area in the library for the visually impaired, complete with magnification equipment.

Mary Ellen Morissette, president of American Home Care, said her organization attends the event every year in order to let seniors know that "we're there for the everyday person with the everyday needs."

She added that her organization provides affordable homecare, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those with low incomes. Services include personal care assistance, nurse visits post-surgery, meal preparation, medication setup, rides to medical appointments or social gatherings, light housekeeping and grocery shopping.

Morissette said she finds the setup of the Health Expo extremely helpful to seniors because they are able to find many of the services they require all in one place.

Donald Quilliam said he stumbled upon the Health Expo while visiting the Senior Center that morning. He added that he was able to get his blood pressure checked and find information about a variety of services, specifically for his hearing problems. Quilliam said this is definitely an event that he will attend next year because, like Morissette, he found it effortless to obtain the services he needs all at one location.

"We specialize in taking care of people as they age," Mary Jenewin-Caplin, a representative from Jewish Geriatric Services Inc., said. "It would be a tragedy if someone was at home and didn't know that doctors and nurses could come to their house. The services we provide are fairly unique."

Jewish Geriatric Services Inc., is a non-profit organization that coordinates services for all seniors including those from Spectrum Home Health Care, which provide medical and rehabilitation services for patients at their homes.

In addition to teams of registered nurses, physical and occupational therapists, certified home health aides and medical social workers, Nina Chrisanthopoulos, Spectrum Home Health Care community liaison, said her organization is providing the recent telemedicine technology. She said this monitoring system is placed in the patient's home and checks their weight, blood pressure, oxygen level and blood pressure without inconveniencing the patient by having a medical professional come to the home.

The American Red Cross also attended the Health Expo in order to educate seniors about emergency preparedness. Laura Birks, director of Volunteer and Community Services for the Pioneer Valley Chapter, said it is vital that her organization attends as many community fairs as possible in order to "get the word out that giving blood is only one component of the Red Cross." She added that life saving skills, disaster education and volunteerism are also important facets of her organization.

When stopping at the Red Cross table at the Health Expo, Quilliam lingered to acquire more information and get a few more free glow sticks.

"They are all so sincere and willing to help," he said with a chuckle and a smile.

For more information on American Home Care call 789-9844 or 1-800-821-3131.

For more information about Jewish Geriatric Services Inc. visit their Web site at

For more information on services provided by Spectrum Home Health Care call 567-4600.

For more information about the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter call 737-4306.