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Innovation, Compassion during Pandemic Inspire CICOA Awards
When the pandemic struck, people came forward to find solutions to care for Central Indiana’s most vulnerable residents. CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions honored some of the heroes during its annual awards. It also awarded a hospital system and Indianapolis physician for work to advance care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Exceptional Service Award: Chef for Hire went above and beyond to help prepare nearly one million meals over the last 12 months for CICOA clients and people in need.
- Collaboration Award: Oak Street Health helped CICOA clients get access to vaccines and has worked in partnership to bring services to those in need.
- The Dementia Friends Indiana Advocate Award: Indiana University Health Saxony Hospital in Fishers became the first hospital in the state to be recognized as a Dementia Friends Indiana Hospital.
- Impact Award: Mark Flesner, lead engineer at the E.W. Scripps Company, which owns WRTV6 in Indianapolis, was honored for being a board member, volunteer and CICOA’s longest monthly donor for more than 11 years.
- Spirit Award: Southport Police Department created a unique outreach program during the pandemic and partnered with CICOA to provide meals for seniors in need.
- Innovation Award: Dr. Michael Kaufmann, Indiana Department of Homeland Security EMS Medical Director, started a dementia training program for all first responders, a first-of-its kind program in the nation.
“We are awestruck by this caring community who helped feed, care and comfort neighbors,” said CICOA President and CEO Tauhric Brown. “CICOA is proud to recognize these outstanding awardees who, through their vision and passion for serving vulnerable populations, have helped advance community awareness and support for older adults, people with disabilities and family caregivers.”
CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions presented the six awards June 22 during the organization’s annual meeting, which was held virtually.
Exceptional Service Award
Chef for Hire has been a valuable partner in CICOA’s meal service delivery since 1996. However, its actions over the past year went well beyond traditional expectations of a business partnership and demonstrated a strong commitment not only to CICOA’s Meals & More nutrition service, but also to those most vulnerable during a pandemic.
In the past year, Chef for Hire has prepared and delivered almost a million meals and supplemental food boxes. They purchased additional equipment to meet the demand, included nutritional mailings in food boxes on request, and delivered fruit baskets to seniors when the annual Betty Sells Memorial Thanksgiving dinner was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Chef for Hire worked with CICOA to deliver a humanitarian response in a crisis to ensure the nutritional needs of seniors were being met,” Brown said. “We are truly grateful for their partnership.”
Chef for Hire Vice President and General Manager Jeff Scheck said, “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to step up and serve CICOA in this unprecedented pandemic and to be able to help meet the needs of your clients.”
Oak Street Health has been a long-time proponent of providing excellent medical care and recognizes the impact a patient’s environment has on health outcomes. When Oak Street Health received a supply of COVID-19 vaccines, they immediately reached out to see how they could best serve CICOA clients.
The two organizations began partnering in 2019, when CICOA embedded a staff member at Oak Street Health in Indianapolis to connect vulnerable seniors to CICOA’s wraparound supports to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits.
“Today, this partnership continues to grow as Oak Street Health sees opportunities to provide better care for the community by connecting its patients to services,” Brown said.
Oak Street Health Senior Regional Vice President Matt McLaughlin said, “Thank you for the recognition of the shared work that we do in our community for seniors. It is an enjoyable and rare thing to have an opportunity to work with such a like-minded organization. Thank you for everything you have done to help us rebuild healthcare as it should be.”
Dementia Friends Indiana Advocate Award
Indiana University Health Saxony Hospital in Fishers is the first hospital in the state to be recognized as a Dementia Friends Indiana Hospital. IU Health Saxony partnered with CICOA to create a first-of-its-kind program that increases awareness, comfort level and competency for hospital team members taking care of patients with dementia.
All hospital staff, including physicians and team members not in direct patient care roles, participate in workshops to become Dementia Friends.
Additional training has taken place in units that have a high population of patients with memory issues or dementia. Comfort care kits that contain activity items designed to stimulate the minds of patients with dementia also are available.
“We are grateful to IU Health Saxony Hospital for embracing Dementia Friends training, and we’re hopeful this model can be replicated across other hospital systems for maximum impact,” Brown said.
IU Health Saxony Hospital Clinical Manager Tai Oliver said, “This has been one of the highlights of my professional career and even in my personal life. It’s been amazing to see our staff embrace this initiative and be more empathetic and caring to this patient population.”
IU Health Saxony Hospital Medical Social Worker Claire Shawver added, “We’ve had such positive feedback from the families of our dementia patients as well saying that they feel more comfortable and have enjoyed some of the changes that we have made at the hospital.”
Mark Flesner, lead engineer at the E.W. Scripps Company, which owns WRTV6 in Indianapolis, has been a donor and volunteer for more than 11 years.
Flesner recognized early that he could increase his giving and maximize his impact by joining CICOA’s Signature Community, its monthly donor program. A former CICOA Foundation board member and volunteer, Flesner started giving monthly in 2013 and is the longest running monthly donor.
“We are grateful for his countless hours of dedication through the years and for his continuing friendship and impact investment in our community,” Brown said.
To the Southport Police Department, protect and serve means not only keeping the community safe, but also taking care of vulnerable citizens who can’t get out of their homes or who don’t have family members nearby to help.
In 2020, the Southport Police invited the community to join them in serving those who are less fortunate during the pandemic. Organizations, businesses and volunteers responded by donating food, essentials, money and workers.
CICOA’s Meals & More program provided 160 frozen meals, which were delivered by officers to local seniors in need, along with toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other items.
Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn said, “This award means a lot to me personally along with the department and the city. We do a lot throughout the year to help Perry Township seniors. They are dear to our hearts, so to make these partnerships to deliver food and essentials means a lot to us.”
Dr. Michael Kaufmann is the Indiana Department of Homeland Security EMS Medical Director. Through his advocacy, in 2020 the Indiana Department of Homeland Security introduced dementia training under the umbrella of Dementia Friends Indiana into the state’s first responder training platform. This means thousands of Indiana first responders (police, fire and EMS) will receive the baseline education that allows them to better engage and treat someone with dementia.
This partnership between Dementia Friends Indiana and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security is the first of its kind across the nation.
In addition, Dementia Friends Indiana is now part of the state’s Dementia Care Advisory Group. The Indiana General Assembly approved first responder training to be incorporated in the Indiana State Plan on Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Dr. Kaufmann is a genuine, trusted, and reliable friend and advocate of CICOA, the Dementia Friends Indiana program, and the vulnerable populations we serve. He sets a strong leadership example for others to follow,” Brown said.
“The last year has been exceedingly difficult for all Hoosiers and for all of our EMS professionals across the state of Indiana,” said Kaufmann. “I think the one thing the pandemic was able to show is that EMS can play a much greater role than just public safety but can be part of public health and healthcare in helping serve vulnerable populations.”