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Cheyenne VA Community Living Center providing care beyond basic treatment

RN Sam Massie (left) and resident Judy Brayton offer their perspectives on the Cheyenne VA’s Community Living Center.
RN Sam Massie (left) and resident Judy Brayton offer their perspectives on the Cheyenne VA’s Community Living Center.

“This is the best care I’ve had and the most caring VA I’ve been in,” said Judy Brayton, a resident of Cheyenne VA’s Community Living Center.

With a staff of roughly 40 employees, the CLC is housed in the main building of this historic facility, which opened during the Great Depression. This residential center provides its 22 Veterans with full access to all VA resources and doctors.

CLC staff perspective

Samia Massie, a CLC nurse, has worked at VA for 15 months.

In addition to providing medical treatment, staff tailor programs that focus on residents’ physical, emotional and cognitive well-being.

Massie said once a week, recreational therapy holds an art class. Residents painted pumpkins last month and completed wood projects.

“It’s a way to be creative,” said Massie. “It gives them dignity. It’s something they’re still able to do that they didn’t think they could. With us helping, they can show their passion.”

To address cognitive issues, Massie said they play era-specific songs and watch music videos during a ‘music and memories’ activity.

“Music is a powerful part of your memories,” she said. “This lets them relive those memories. Veterans talk with each other, and we see them relax. It’s a huge stress reliever.”

Massie has also been able to start several projects for CLC residents, including wound care rounds, telehealth wound care and the use of a new wound care specialty camera. With these efforts, Massie expects to see “lots of improvement with wounds in this unit.”

Needing continuous care

Brayton, who served in the U.S. Army for 26 years, said, “I was the first female First Sergeant and the first female Command Sergeant Major in National the Guard.”

During her military service, Brayton suffered damage to her lungs from burn pit exposure. She needed medical intervention and now receives ongoing treatment at CLC.

“I have no immune system,” she said. “They prefer I stay, and I’m good with that too.”

Brayton, now 81, has lived at this facility for six years.

“People act like they care,” she said. “It’s like family. I love it.”

Keeping fit and social

Brayton, whose 80-year-old sister also resides at the CLC, said she engages in many of the facility’s activities. Exercise programs offer options for physical fitness and Brayton enjoys the bike at the gym, riding up to two miles every other day.

She stays mentally challenged by working puzzles, playing bingo and extensive reading.

“I don’t want to give up,” she said.

Admittedly social, Brayton also helps fellow residents with errands and visits with them to lend a listening ear.

“I love people and get along with the others really well,” she said.

This great-grandmother said she is doing much better physically and mentally since moving to CLC.

“It’s worked out very well,” Brayton said. “I know I need to be here.”

For more information on Cheyenne VA’s CLC, please outreach your primary care provider or a long-term care/hospice care social worker.

April Love is a Writer-Editor on the VISN 19 Creative Task Force. She began working for Denver VA in 2016 and lives in Aurora, Colorado.

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