Seniors urged to use Vial for Life program

(Published August 14, 2006, 10:10 a.m.)

By Mike Heine/The Week


The Walworth County Health and Human Services Department is giving a renewed effort to tell seniors about its "File for Life" program.

The little red and white packets that contain important medical information and magnetically stick to a refrigerator door are lifesavers, said Marylyn Gasch, senior outreach specialist.

The program, which is heading into its second year, replaces the "Vial of Life." That program used a plastic tube to keep medical information inside the refrigerator, making it easy for emergency responders to find.

The newer program makes the information even more accessible to emergency medical technicians by hanging it in plain view, Gasch said. It also reminds seniors to more frequently update information contained in the file.

"We found this program is much better," Gasch said. "Lots of time the tubes get lost in the fridge."

The File of Life cards kept on the refrigerator door have a resident's name, address, phone number, emergency contacts, doctor information, medical conditions, a list of medications and allergies, Medicare and insurance numbers and more, Gasch said.

Without it, 'If EMTs go to somebody, they don't know anything about that person-what health conditions they have, who their doctor is," Gasch said. "This lets them know that all at one time. It's a very important little packet."

The packets are free to all county seniors age 60 and over. They are available from the county Health and Human Services Department.

Gasch has been promoting the File for Life in senior newsletters, at senior homes and during presentations to senior groups.

"We've had very good results," Gasch said. "People have told me how it helped them."

Gasch helped one Delavan woman fill out the file. Three days later, that woman had a heart attack and medical crews were able to begin proper treatments because of their immediate knowledge of the woman's medical condition, Gasch said.

"I know it does bring results," she said.

Seniors who don't have the Vial for Life and continue to use the Vile of Life should keep the tube of information in their refrigerator but consider upgrading to the new program. EMTs will continue to look inside the refrigerator for the Vile of Life tubes, Gasch said.

WHERE TO CALL

To obtain a File for Life card, contact the Walworth County Health and Human Services Department by calling (262) 741-3200.

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