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Veterans group donates hospital beds to nursing home
Disabled American Veterans make 'life a whole lot better' for residents
Willowwood Nursing Center staff members Felipe Hernandez, right, and Israel Greenway move a bed Wednesday morning from a resident's room before moving in a new hospital bed just delivered to the Flowery Branch nursing home. The local Disabled American Veterans chapter donated the beds.

The Gainesville-based veterans group made Curt Pritchett’s day.

A resident at Willowwood Nursing Center in Flowery Branch, he would have to scoot himself down his bed to reach a manual crank if he wanted to raise the bed.

“And it was a guess,” Pritchett said of the bed’s elevation.

But thanks to hospital beds donated Wednesday by the Disabled American Veterans’ Gainesville-Hall Chapter 17, Pritchett has electronic controls within arm’s reach.

“This makes life a whole lot better,” he said. “This is very exciting.”

It was just the reaction Sam Smith, Chapter 17 commander, was hoping for in donating 17 beds to the nursing center at 4595 Cantrell Road.

“Enjoy your bed, sir,” he told Pritchett. “I’m glad you got it.”

The chapter worked with DAV chapters in Decatur and Covington in getting the beds — donated by a company that prefers to remain anonymous — and moving them to Willowwood.

The nursing center’s administrator, Janine Milner, was extremely grateful.

“I’ve been doing this since 1984 and I’ve never been given one hospital bed, let alone 17,” she said.

She said she would determine who gets the beds based on need.

“There are people in here who have to have specialty mattresses,” Milner said.

The DAV chapter’s donation is part of ongoing efforts to help veterans and others in the community. Earlier this year, the group began an initiative to loan out electric wheelchairs.

By June 30, the end of the group’s last fiscal year, the chapter had provided $65,000 in assistance to veterans and their families, Smith said.

The volunteer-run chapter gets its money largely from private donations and fundraisers.

“We do everything we can to bring money in, and every penny … goes to help veterans,” Smith said.