Samuel S. Stratton Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Albany is proud to be the first VA Medical Center in the nation selected as a site for the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher House. It is a measure of the quality care given that Mr. and Mrs. Fisher chose this medical center to pioneer support to veterans and their families.
What Is Fisher House?
Fisher House is a home-away-from-home for families of hospitalized veterans or veterans who are in the area to visit a hospitalized member of their immediate family. Also welcome to stay at the Fisher House are veterans, undergoing an extended episode of outpatient therapy, who are able to care for their own personal needs or are accompanied by a caretaker.
A waiting list is maintained. To register, contact the Fisher House Program Director at (518) 626-6919. Patients or families may alternatively contact the patient's VA Social Worker. Referrals from the private sector are handled by the Program Director.
Registration hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Emergency requests are handled by the Administrative Officer of the Day (x66620) at all other times.
- Accommodations: Two suites sleep six each, five single rooms sleep two or four each. Roll-aways and port-a-cribs help with extra needs. Each room has a private bath, TV, clock radio, and telephone.
- Occupancy: Seven families. When single individuals share a room, more families can be served at one time.
- Office: Located on the first floor.
- Common Rooms:Living room with fireplace and library, dining room, kitchen, and laundry.
- Kitchen: Private locked cupboards keep food secure for each family. Built-in refrigerator and freezer store cold food which families label with their names.
- Food Provisions:Families provide most of their own food. However, some complimentary basics are on hand such as coffee, tea, sugar and cereal.
- Laundry:Machines and detergent are provided.
- Linens: family is responsible for their room's assigned inventory.
- House Rules:Families are responsible for their own rooms and cleaning up after themselves in the common areas. It is important to remember there is no maid service. Other important rules are no smoking, no alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs, no firearms and no pets. Quiet and mutual respect are also requested.
Families help each other in many ways. To adjust to life in the house, hospital, and local community newcomers get a helping hand from experienced guests.
They also exchange moral support in coping with the overwhelming stress of illness in the family. In this way, they serve as each other's extended family.
The criteria which is evaluated to determine eligibility and priority are:
- Family members of the seriously ill or family members of the patient who is undergoing surgery.
- A veteran who is undergoing extended episodic outpatient therapy who is accompanied by a spouse or caretaker.
- Family members of a hospitalized veteran who are elderly and frail themselves making travel a hardship.
- Guests must be willing to abide by house rules and regulations including no smoking, alcohol, or illegal drug use.
Albany's Fisher House Foundation are the primary sponsors of the Fisher House. Some services are provided by the Stratton VA Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, other recurring costs are dependent on donations. Memorial funds may also be established.
Background of the House
The idea for a comfort home was presented to Mr. Fisher in 1989 by Admiral Carl Trost and his wife Pauline.
The first Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher House was built at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland in 1991. Mr. Fisher hired his own architect, builder, and interior designer.
After the houses are completed the Fishers turn ownership over to the respective Services or the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Fishers receive so much joy from the houses that more are being planned.
About Mr. & Mrs. Fisher
Zachary Fisher left high school at age 16 to help his father and older brothers in the family construction business. Early in his career he suffered a severe knee injury in a construction accident which prevented him from serving in the military. However, over the years, he and his wife Elizabeth served the country well by volunteering time and donating money to family-oriented military efforts.
In 1990, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher began the Fisher House program, dedicating more than $20 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel. Fisher House now operate at 17 military bases and at seven Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers throughout the nation and in Germany. More than 183,000 days of lodging are provided by Fisher House every year, saving families an estimated $5 million annually. Since the program's inception, more than 65,000 families have stayed in Fisher House.
The Fishers were dedicated to enhancing the public perception of the U.S. Military and to helping needy members of the Armed Forces. They were true patriots who ardently supported a number of philanthropic activities. The Fisher House Foundation, Inc.
* has established 32 Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Houses, providing a home-away-from-home for families of hospitalized patients undergoing treatment at U. S. Military and Veterans hospitals. Their work is carried on by their nephew Kenneth Fisher, who is chairman of the Fisher House Foundation Board. Mrs. Audrey Fisher and Nancy Edelman, both Fisher House Foundation Trustees, act as ambassadors for the Fisher House Foundation and visit each house annually.