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First residents move into new Green House home for Veterans at Lovell FHCC

January 9, 2013

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NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. – Moving day has finally arrived for the first residents to move into the Green House® home at Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

Eight Veterans who formerly lived in the FHCC’s Community Living Center are spending their first nights in their private rooms, in their newly constructed home on the grounds of the main FHCC campus in North Chicago, Ill.

“This is very exciting, especially for our first Green House® home residents,” said Lovell FHCC Director Patrick Sullivan. “This is a tremendous milestone in our history.”

Residents started arriving after breakfast Monday along with Lovell FHCC staff members who will work in the home. As a cook prepared a lasagna lunch – the first meal to be served in the home – staff and the new occupants of the home excitedly awaited movers scheduled to bring their belongings later in the day.

“I’m excited and a little emotional,” said resident Adrienne Burke, who was escorted to the home by one of her long-time nurses Elvira Balbin. “They took care of me for four years … I’m going to miss them.”

Burke, an Army WWII Veteran, was referring to employees of the CLC, where she’s been living for nearly five years. Eight of the new residents in the first Green House® home will come from the CLC. Two are moving from outside Lovell FHCC.

As she waited for her belongings to arrive, Burke showed Balbin around the home, including Burke’s new room and bathroom, both private. Burke pointed out where she will hang her oil paintings and where she hopes to add a recliner and place her task light, “for knitting.” Burke joked that as long as she can find her toothbrush and a change of clothes later today, she’ll be set until one of her granddaughters arrives to help her unpack later this week.

The Green House® homes represent a revolution in medical care for long-term residents who require skilled care services. Ten residents will have their own rooms and bathrooms in each home. Communal spaces include the living room, den and kitchen, where there is a table large enough for all the residents, as well as two staff members.

Two “universal workers,” also called “shahbaz” as part of the Green House® home model, will be on duty at all times. Shahbazim will take care of residents, cook and do light housekeeping. Residents will have the freedom to live their lives as independently as possible, from making menu choices to deciding when and where they will participate in activities in and outside the homes.

“This is very different,” said Antonette Lear, formerly a nursing assistant elsewhere at Lovell FHCC and now a shahbaz in the first Green House® home. “It’s a home-like environment. You can sit down with residents and just be with them, and they don’t have to eat at a certain time.”

Nauline Johnson, who was a certified nurse assistant in acute psychology at Lovell FHCC, said her new job as a shahbaz is a promotion and one she’s been looking forward to for a long time. “I can be more involved with patients now. I get to enjoy life with them. It’s a great exploration, an adventure.”

Resident Richard Guazzo said he can’t believe moving day finally arrived. “I’m nervous; it’s stress,” he said as he waited in the kitchen area.

Guazzo, who has resided in the Lovell FHCC CLC for three years, said he is looking forward to “the quiet” in his new home. “All I need is room for my movies and my DVD player … as for the rest, I’ll just have to wait and see how it comes.”
Lovell FHCC cut the ribbon on the first of what will be up to six homes in October, 2012. The first home will be fully occupied by the end of the week. Ten more residents will move into the second home in late winter or early spring of this year. More information about the Green House® project can be found online at

To arrange to interview or take photos of residents of the first home, contact Lovell FHCC Public Affairs Officer Jayna Legg, 224-610-3132, or email More high-resolution photos are available by request or on the Lovell FHCC Facebook page

About the Lovell FHCC: The Lovell FHCC was established Oct. 1, 2010, as the nation’s first and only fully integrated Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense federal health care center. The center has a dual mission of caring for Veterans and ensuring the medical and dental readiness of U.S. Navy sailors attending training and working at Naval Station Great Lakes. The center also serves military families and retirees.