Local residents have a new place to find comfort

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002

In the film &uot;Patch Adams,&uot; there’s a scene where the title character (played by Robin Williams) is in a shouting match with the dean of his medical school (played by Bob Gunton).

&uot;These patients don’t need a friend!&uot; the dean roars. &uot;They need a doctor!&uot; According to Edward Patnesky, friendliness and help can work as well as any medicine.

Patnesky, a Fellow of American College Healthcare, is the owner of the Franklin chapter of Comfort Keepers, a non-medical organization desi-gned for individuals or couples who may need (or want) some assistance with the daily tasks of living. Patnesky’s organization is one of 10 location in Virginia, with its closest colleague in Newport News.

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&uot;A lot of the Comfort Keeper clients are able to take care of themselves,&uot; explains Patnes-ky, &uot;but sometimes they just want someone to come over and do things for them. Help them with their laundry, take them grocery shopping, or just play cards with them.&uot;

A single phone call can make a great deal of difference for someone in need, he says. &uot;We call them TLC calls: Tender Loving Care,&uot; Patnesky says with a smile. &uot;It’s just a phone call to say hello and make sure that they’re doing alright. If they need something, we’ll be checking in.&uot;

Franklin resident Ashley Cooper is a Comfort Keepers caregiver to Doris and James Pittman. Once a week, she heads to the Pittmans’ Suffolk home to provide them in-home care.

&uot;I saw an ad for the Comfort Keepers in the Suffolk News-Herald about two weeks ago, and it sounded interesting,&uot; said Cooper. &uot;I basically do some of the same things for the Pittmans that I do for my grandmother. When I get to their home, I cook breakfast for them, and then I go make up the bed, and clean the bedroom. Once they’re finished with breakfast, I wash the dishes. Then I mop the floor and vacuum.

&uot;After I’m finished with that, the three of us sit and talk and watch television. Mrs. Pittman tells me about how they met, and stories from them living together, and about their children and grandchildren. We talk about how they used to love camping when they were younger.&uot;

Mrs. Pittman is glad that she and her husband found out about Cooper and the Comfort Keepers. &uot;We needed someone to help clean the house, I’ve had a lot of back problems, so I have trouble bending over or lifting anything heavy,&uot; she says. &uot;But most anything we ask (Ashley) to do, she’ll do, and she works really hard. I have to make her take a break and drink a Pepsi sometimes!&uot;

Cooper hopes that more potential caregivers get involved with her organization. &uot;I think a lot of people in this area might need this kind of help, because it’s really good for people that can’t do everything for themselves. They live alone, and it’s good for them to have visitors during the week. You get to know people. You like them and they like you.&uot;

Patnesky has very strict guidelines about his hiring procedures. &uot;We do an interview and screening process. There are three background checks: credit, transportation, and criminal. We need to weed out people who have blemishes in their background. Overall, we’re just looking for people who are reliable, friendly and caring.

For more information, call 569-7777.

site, www.comfortkeepers.com.