If a United States military veteran is an inpatient at the Orlando Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, they no longer have to bear living apart from their families or loved ones. One might inquire how this is made possible. The answer is simply a Fisher House.
Showcased in the heart of Lake Nona’s Medical City, the VA houses up to 134 military veterans.The facility’s main goal is to provide a home for vets who are in need of medical treatment and hospitalization. Attached between many of these vets and their caregivers are emotional ties. Being physically apart from each other does not aid in any way and can take tolls on both parties. All they long for is time together and to be in the presence of one another.
To solve the issue, the Orlando VA Medical Center has partnered with the Fisher House Foundation to construct a Fisher House on the VA’s property. The basis of a Fisher House is to provide families of veterans with a home to stay in on site while their vet receives care at the VA.
The Fisher House is a two-story building with 16 suites, eight on the top and eight on the bottom. At full occupancy, it can hold 44 guests. Each room will be equipped with a phone, TV, DVD player and a tablet. There will also be free Wi-Fi all around the house. On top of these luxuries, guests also will be able to use a kitchen area, dining room, family room, laundry facility, library and an outdoor patio setup. All of this will be at no cost to the guest. As long as the loved one affiliated with their veteran lives at least 50 miles away or more, they can qualify to stay at Fisher House. There also is no time limit to the guest’s duration at the house.
Currently, the Fisher House Foundation is working on interior aspects such as painting rooms, putting down flooring, hanging light fixtures and bathroom installations. The landscape is the next chore to tackle on the to-do list. They also will handle all furnishing costs for the building. Once these tasks are complete, the Orlando VA will take ownership of the structure. They will be responsible for all costs associated with things such as cable, Wi-Fi, electricity and security systems.
In favor of the production process, there were no setbacks caused by Hurricane Irma that struck Florida in September. One of the project engineers working on Fisher House, Dimos Triantafillu, states, “They had secured all their equipment prior to the hurricane, and they were far along in the construction that it didn’t really impact it.” There was no damage done.
As a Lake Nona resident, one can help a guest receive a more pleasureable experience at Fisher House in several ways. Gift registries can be filled out at both www.bedbathandbeyond.com and www.walmart.com. Donation drives also can be hosted within the community to collect paper goods, baking items, kitchenware, toys for children, or laundry items. Gift cards also are accepted from places such as Publix, Walmart or Target. In addition, Orlando Fisher House has a few “post-construction” plans up their sleeves where volunteers can help. They plan to make some upgrades to the outdoor patio, adding ceiling fans. There also is a project for creating a “climate-controlled storage shed” and a “summer kitchen.”
The Fisher House began construction in late 2016 and is expected to complete the building process by December 2017. The National Fisher House Foundation will host an opening ceremony of the house in January or February 2018 when the house is finally expected to open up its doors to guests.
Terri Turner, the Fisher House Manager, simply puts it: “We really want to get the local people excited about it just because it’s another great amenity to have.”