Pen-pal program helps CCMC residents stay connected

Photo courtesy of Cordova Community Medical Center

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the 10 residents of Cordova Community Medical Center have had to adjust to life with few in-person visitors. However, a new hospital program seeks to put residents back in touch with the community using handwritten cards and letters.

“Who doesn’t like handwritten notes from somebody saying, ‘Hi, I’m thinking of you’?” asked Michelle Acoba, CCMC’s director of nursing long term care. “I would love that, and I’m sure they would too. Many residents have family and friends in the community, but they haven’t had visitors in months. It’s really important for those in high-risk categories, such as our residents, who need to quarantine as much as possible, to feel connected to their community. We feel that this is the safest way.”

The project was suggested by CCMC staff member Faith Wheeler, who observed that many assisted-living and long-term-care facilities in the Lower 48 had also implemented pen-pal programs successfully. It’s expected that all CCMC residents will participate in the program, though not all may be able to write back, Acoba said. Anyone wishing to participate should mail a message to Cordova Community Medical Center; C/O PenPals for Residents; P.O. Box 160; Cordova, AK 99574.

Letters will be contained for 72 hours before being conveyed to residents to make doubly certain that the letters will not accidentally transmit the coronavirus, Acoba said.

“It would be really beneficial for our residents, and it would be great if the community participates,” Acoba said. “We’re optimistic that this will help our residents feel engaged in our community while we’re all in a stressful time.”