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First residents move into new vet homes at Lovell Center

World War II Veteran Adrienne Burke was happy show off her new room Green House® home Lovell FHCC ElvirBalbone nurses

World War II Veteran Adrienne Burke was happy to show off her new room in the Green House® home at Lovell FHCC to Elvira Balbin, one of the nurses who took care of her in the Community Living Center at Lovell FHCC. Burke has resided in the CLC for nearly five years and looks forward now to her new life in one of the facility’s Green House® homes. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 11, 2013 7:02AM

NORTH CHICAGO — Moving day arrived this week for the first residents to move into the Green House home at Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

Eight veterans who formerly lived in the FHCC’s Community Living Center are spending their first nights in their private rooms, in their newly constructed home on the grounds of the main FHCC campus.

“This is very exciting, especially for our first Green House home residents,” said Lovell FHCC Director Patrick Sullivan. “This is a tremendous milestone in our history.”

The Green House homes are for long-term residents who require skilled care services. Ten residents will have their own rooms and bathrooms in each home. Communal spaces include the living room, den and kitchen, where there is a table large enough for all the residents, as well as two staff members.

Residents started arriving after breakfast Monday along with Lovell FHCC staff members who work in the home. As a cook prepared a lasagna lunch — the first meal to be served in the home — staff and the new occupants of the home awaited movers scheduled to bring their belongings later in the day.

“I’m excited and a little emotional,” said resident Adrienne Burke, who was escorted to the home by one of her long-time nurses, Elvira Balbin. “They took care of me for four years … I’m going to miss them.”

Burke, an Army World War II veteran, was referring to employees of the Community Living Center, where she’s been living for nearly five years. Eight of the new residents in the first Green House home will come from the CLC. Two are moving from outside Lovell FHCC.

Two “universal workers,” also called “shahbaz” as part of the Green House home model, will be on duty at all times. Shahbazim will take care of residents, cook and do light housekeeping. Residents will have the freedom to live their lives as independently as possible, from making menu choices to deciding when and where they will participate in activities in and outside the homes, officials said.

“This is very different,” said Antonette Lear, formerly a nursing assistant elsewhere at Lovell FHCC and now a shahbaz in the first Green House home. “It’s a home-like environment. You can sit down with residents and just be with them, and they don’t have to eat at a certain time.”

Nauline Johnson, who was a certified nurse assistant in acute psychology at Lovell FHCC, said her new job as a shahbaz is a promotion and one she’s been looking forward to for a long time. “I can be more involved with patients now. I get to enjoy life with them. It’s a great exploration, an adventure.”

Lovell FHCC cut the ribbon on the first of what will be up to six homes in October 2012. The first home will be fully occupied by the end of the week. Ten more residents will move into the second home in late winter or early spring.

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