‘It’s very comforting’: Henrico launches Senior Outreach Call Center during COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Apr. 23, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico County is checking on its senior citizens in a heartwarming way thanks to an outreach call center!

The call center opened April 13 giving seniors the chance to speak with County employees, primarily within the public library system, who may need something as simple as some human interaction during this pandemic.

"Working on the outreach call center is the best part of my day," said Gina Fuller.

Fuller is just one of the many Henrico Public Library employees who are reminding seniors in the County – they are not forgotten.

"We want people to know that we're here for them and that we want to be those people who walk beside you during this really scary time," said Sara Morris, Advocate for the Aging in Henrico County.

That call means a lot to some of these seniors who have already registered for the calls.

"It's real comforting to know that someone else cares about you other than your family," said Margie Brace.

Brace has already received two to three phone calls at this point. She’s 86-years-young, lives in a senior facility and says she’s staying healthy.

"I wash my hands, I clean up behind myself and I go out as little as possible, do what I need to do and come back," she said.

But Henrico County realized the self-isolation during this pandemic isn't easy. The hope is that the senior outreach call center can spread some positivity to this period of self-isolation for our older population.

"We put them in touch with those different resources but also just have a friendly voice to talk to,” Morris said. “Sometimes it's just a matter of getting things off your chest and talking through the anxiety and nervousness that can come along with this."

"It can help make their day seem more like they're used to," Fuller added.

"We talk about everything,” Brace explained. “We talk about 10 or 12 minutes about our children, our grands, how our day is going, what you've done."

While it's not exactly the same type of social interaction some of these seniors may be used to, it's left their loved ones thankful.

"We've had other family members call from other states,” Fuller said. “So they're calling to sign them up and they're letting us know how wonderful it is and how it's helping them have peace of mind."

"You're family automatically cares but for someone else to care - that's very comforting," Brace said.

Right now Morris said they have about 18 seniors who have registered for the calls.

The number to call and get registered is (804) 501-5454 and is staffed daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to Henrico County, The Outreach Call Center stems from the County’s EngAGE initiative, which “connects older residents and family members to community support and resources and strives to make the county a great place to age.”

Most of the residents who have called are living alone and are “just feeling a little bit of anxiety and concern about the current climate and are looking for ways to have their spirits lifted,” Morris said.

Many of those residents have also called to ask about various resources, including the need for food or help getting prescriptions filled.

“In those instances, they have been connected to church groups that provide food and pharmacies that deliver prescription medications,” a news release said.

For other questions about COVID-19 or other health matters you can call the Richmond & Henrico Health District hotline at (804) 205-3501 which is staffed 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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