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July 23, 2008 > A loving community

A loving community

Community members lend a helpful hand and compassionate ear

By Justine Yan

Prima Jimenez, 70, is a resident of Union City. Her "nice, warm" home is visited every Monday thru Friday by volunteers of LIFE ElderCare, Inc.'s Meals on Wheels program for homebound seniors in Fremont, Newark, and Union City. Meals on Wheels delivers nutritious food to seniors or disabled adults who have difficulty shopping and preparing their own meals. Prima has had a difficult medical history; she has asthma and, after several strokes, relies heavily on her wheelchair. Nevertheless, a participant in the generous program since 1998, she is known for her friendly and cheerful nature.

"She loves the food, and she loves the volunteers," said Barbara Proctor, volunteer coordinator of Meals on Wheels. Often filling in for absent drivers, Proctor is familiar with almost all of the seniors on each of the routes. Prima is one of her favorites.

Several weeks ago, Proctor was delivering Prima's meal when she was told about this lady's wonderful experience at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward. "She wanted to contact your newspaper and tell you her story," said Proctor.

When TCV called Prima to ask about her story, she was glad to share. On May 27, she was alone in her bathroom when she lost her balance, hit her head, and was "out cold." Her husband was in the back yard and her son in the garage. When her brother found her lying on the floor, he called 9-1-1 and an ambulance took her directly to St. Rose Hospital in Hayward.

Before her fall, Prima's family changed her insurance provider. For three months, while her records were being transferred, her new insurance plan was not yet effective. Prima had no insurance coverage but she did have a broken her leg and was in urgent need of professional care. She recalls how her primary physician, Dr. Steven Degalan, treated her even though he was aware that his patient did not have insurance coverage at the time. "He treated me for free," she said, after a moment's reflection.

Without any delay, she was referred to specialist Dr. Al-Shaikh, who put her broken leg in a cast. She stayed in the hospital for two weeks, during which Dr. Degalan visited her every day. Her best memory of her hospital stay was when she was troubled by a urinary infection one night at 2 a.m. Not knowing how to treat Prima, the nurse called Degalan, who immediately prescribed the proper medication for her.

Now, Prima again enjoys insurance coverage. Still, she remains grateful to her doctor and nurses for reaching out to help when she was most vulnerable.

For those interested in volunteer opportunities with Meals on Wheels, please contact the organization listed for your area:

To volunteer for LIFE Eldercare's Meals on Wheels program, please contact Barbara Proctor at (510) 574-2094 or bproctor@ci.fremont.ca.us. More information is available on the website, www.lifeeldercare.org.

Meals on Wheels Locations

Fremont, Newark, Union City
LIFE Eldercare, Inc.
3300 Capitol Ave.
Fremont, 94538
(510) 574-2094
Delivery Monday - Friday
10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo
Service Opportunity for Seniors, Inc
1435 Grove Way
Hayward 94546
(510) 582-1263
www.ebdir.net/meals

Milpitas
Milpitas Senior Center
457 E. Calaveras Blvd.
Milpitas 95035
(405) 586 2775

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