Surprise visitor for North Country nursing home residents

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 5:10 PM EDT
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ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. (WCAX) - Some nursing home residents in Northern New York got some surprise visitors on Wednesday.

The Easter bunny, or pony, came early for the folks at the Essex Center and there were smiles from ear to ear.

Over the last 10 years, Linda Cole of Kasey’s Cast-A-Ways Fun Farm has spent her days traveling to different nursing homes.

“I don’t do all of them,” she said. “I don’t go into the city, I stick to the country.”

After a three-month winter hiatus, Cole and her 9-year-old Shetland pony are back in the Adirondacks making rounds at the Essex Center, making stops at each window.

“I’m so glad to see you again, I know it’s been a while,” Cole said. “Can you give him a little pet through the screen if I get him closer? There you go! What a good boy!”

Her visit brought smiles to the faces of the 100 residents who live at the nursing home, like Rose Cane, whose passion is horses.

“One of the things that has really occurred in nursing homes is the amount of depression and low self-esteem because you have a lack of visitors, family can’t come as often,” said Tara Vilardo of the Essex Center.

The last two years have been tough for everyone but especially hard for those living inside long-term care facilities, which is why programs like these are so important.

“When they are going room to room, you are able to enjoy the experience and actually interact with the animal without those bigger group settings where there is that possibility of transmission,” Vilardo said.

Cole says it’s a long trip to the Essex Center but seeing the residents’ faces makes it worth the 5-and-a-half-hour drive, and she can’t wait to do it again real soon.

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