After several years of anticipation, a year of construction and countless hours of preparation, the Albuquerque Fisher House has officially welcomed its first family.
Paula Parker and Linda Eastman (pictured above), both of Carlsbad, New Mexico, made the five-hour drive and now have a safe, comfortable home to stay in. The house is within walking distance of Paula’s husband, who is recovering at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center.
“The Fisher House really is a home away from home. There is a family atmosphere here and that’s what makes it so special,” said Eastman, the Veteran’s sister. “I have also enjoyed making new friends with the other guests that share the house.”
When Parker learned last month that her husband was going to be admitted to the VA medical center for an extended amount of time, she had to decide whether to stay at a hotel or make the drive back and forth.
Unwind from the stress
“It’s such a benefit to be so close to the hospital and within minutes of my husband. There’s a lot of stress when you have family in the hospital. At least here we can unwind from that a little. It saves us the outside expenses of food and lodging and gives us a sense of security, knowing we are in a safe place.”
Hearing these comments solidifies why the facilities are so important.
Christina Ramírez, Fisher House manager, and Donald Keever, Fisher House program assistant, have been getting the house ready for this moment. Since the dedication last October, Ramirez and her team have hit the ground running. They have ensured the rooms are ready for occupancy and any items that needed addressing were done prior to having the families reside.
“People are always impressed with how beautiful the house is, but it really was just a house until I got families in the door. Now it’s a living, breathing home. The beautiful furnishings pale in comparison to the warmth and instant love that these families have for each other,” Ramírez stated.
Fisher House accommodations depend on eligibility and availability. Fisher House staff consider families who meet eligibility requirements. It also considers who a Veteran’s health care team refers to the facility.
A Fisher House is NOT a temporary residence, treatment facility, hospice, or counseling center. It is a place where family members can be closer to their hospitalized Veteran.
Ron Bassford is a public affairs specialist with the New Mexico VA Health Care System.