Caring for Caregivers - Fargo VA Health Care System
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Fargo VA Health Care System


Caring for Caregivers

Susan and Steve Brinkmeyer

Susan and Steve Brinkmeyer

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hi! My name is Susan Brinkmeyer and I am a caregiver. My husband, Steve, is a Navy Reserve Veteran diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987. His health has gradually declined since then and he now uses a motorized wheelchair at all times. In 2006, I resigned from my teaching position to take care of him and three of our grandchildren who were at that time living with us.
My philosophy of care giving is to let Steve do as much as he can by himself. However, the things I do for him have increased in the past few years. He can still transfer from his wheelchair to bed and vice-versa, but I am always on standby with the Hoyer lift in case of a fall. In the mornings I help change his night bag to a day bag, help him get dressed, and put on his shoes. During the day I help with personal hygiene. He is able to feed himself. I do prepare all meals and make sure things are cut so he can scoop them up with his spoon. In the evenings I help undress him, put his legs in bed once he has transferred, clean his pubic port opening, and cover him up. Once a week I organize Steve’s meds, put them in his weekly dispenser, and order any meds he may need. Once a month I change his super pubic port catheter. I am also his full time chauffer as the MS “witch” has affected his eyesight. I take my marriage vows seriously and I wouldn’t want him any other place than here with me!

There are a variety of VA services that assist a Caregiver. We assure that Veterans and Caregivers are educated and assisted in securing the equipment and services they need so Veterans can remain in their homes or in the least restrictive environment.  We can also assist Veterans and Caregivers in accessing non-VA services. Social Workers spend time with Veterans and Caregivers assessing the home situation and other needs of the family unit; provide ongoing support, and make referrals to community services if new needs arise. The staffs at the VA Healthcare System in VISN 23 are dedicated to caring for the Veteran and Caregivers so that their quality of life is enhanced.

When care giving in the Veteran’s home environment is not the best option, Medical Foster Homes provide a dynamic alternative to Long-Term Care.

To learn more about how the VA cares for Caregivers or Medical Foster Homes, contact your local VA Healthcare System.


VA Black Hills Health Care System 

Caring for Caregivers Coordinator:
Galen Britain, CSW-PIP, BCD
605.745.2000, ext. 9.2558

Medical Foster Homes Coordinator:
Michelle Hough, MSW

VA Central Iowa Health Care System 

Caring for Caregivers Coordinator:
Michelle Buethe, LISW

Medical Foster Home Coordinator
Janice O’Briant, LISW

Fargo VA Medical Center 

Caring for Caregivers Coordinator
Katie Smith
701.239.3700 ext 9-3559

Iowa City VA Medical Center  

Caring for Caregivers Coordinator:
Connie A. Holmes, LISW 
319.338.0581 ext. 6865

Minneapolis VA Health Care System 

Medical Foster Home Information: 612.467.2619
For other information call: 612-725-2000

VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System

For information call: 402.346.8800 or 800.451.5796

Sioux Falls VA Medical Center 

Caring for Caregivers Coordinator:
Vickie Loomer-Gill
605.336.3230 ext. 6758

Medical Foster Home Coordinator
Kris Breitag,

St. Cloud VA Medical Center 

Caring for Caregivers Coordinator
Janet Casey, MSW, LICSW
320.252.1670 ext. 7236
For other information: 320.252.1670




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