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 Thanksgiving Comes Early For Residents And Families Of Mills Pond

​The turkey prepping has commenced in millions of American households this week, as the Thanksgiving holiday descends upon a salivating nation. 

But at one Long Island, N.Y., nursing home, the savory aroma of a roasting bird and its ubiquitous stuffing, along with yams and pumpkin pie, began wafting through its corridors a week early, when Mills Pond Nursing and Rehab in St. James hosted a traditional holiday dinner for nearly 400 residents and family members.

“We realized a few years ago that it is often very difficult for families and friends to come see their loved ones here on Thanksgiving Day,” says Kathy Itzkowitz, director of nursing at Mills Pond, “so we decided to make it a week earlier so residents could enjoy the holiday with their family members.”

Since the first early turkey-day dinner was organized three years ago, the event has grown from 180 guests to 361 this year.

"We wanted it to be a formal dinner,” says Itzkowitz. “So we arranged for special china dishes and glassware, and we had two jazz bands, as well as a piano player, making music throughout the building.”

The turnout was so good that staff had to set up additional tables in various sections of the building. Not to be deterred by the disbursed locales, they arranged for the jazz bands to play in the therapy room and in the upstairs lobby, while the baby grand produced soothing sounds in the main dining room. 

Most of the daytime staff stayed for the festivities, including a dozen additional CNAs, who were on hand to assist residents, if needed. 

“The residents were over the moon about the dinner,” says Itzkowitz, noting that the thank you notes from family members began arriving this week.

As for the number of turkeys served--and gobbled up--at the event: “Twenty-five or 30, I think," says Itzkowiitz. "it was a lot."

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