BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – “The veterans have been waiting a long time and so have we.”
That would be 16 months, to be exact. After shutting down last March due to COVID-19, the Beckley VAMC’s Day Health Care Program reopened its doors on Tuesday.
“We had some challenges,” said Beckley VAMC Adult Day Care Program Director Symantha Calfee. “Now we’re back in the facility, so it’s much better.”
It’s been a long time since health care regulars have been able to interact face to face.
“It sounded like it was thunder and lightning up there.”
Louis Motley served in the U.S. Army for two years. It was tough for him to spend so much time away from the program and other veterans.
“Being away from here you don’t realize it means so much to you,” Motley said.
Fellow Army veteran Luen Williams isn’t as mobile as he used to be. He missed the special care from program nurses that allows him to move around the center and participate in the day’s activities.
“Up here, they take good care of me,” Williams said. “If I have to go somewhere, they see that I get there.”
Beckley is the first VAMC in the nation to reopen its health care program. Even with strong COVID-19 statistics, it’s starting back up at 50% capacity with protocols in place.
“We have that space for the veterans to be staying six feet apart,” Calfee said.
The morning puzzle group is off to a strong start back. Plenty of other activities are offered throughout the day, but with the health care program’s return, there’s one common answer to the question of what was missed the most.
“To see some of the old guys that are still here,” Motley said.
“The comradery with my buddies, you know?” Williams added.