Modified: September 11, 2018 10:36am
Senior issues are once again in the spotlight in Erie County as the summer fades away to be replaced by the cool of fall. Last month in this space we asked for county residents’ input on how we can better serve our seniors, and the response has been tremendous. More opportunities for your input on Senior Services’ programs are upcoming, as are free learning opportunities through the department’s “University Express” classes. This month I would like to highlight these activities and also update readers on an unacceptable nursing home situation that we acted on last month.
In our “Call Out to Caregivers” column last month our Senior Services department reached out to all county seniors and their caregivers, asking about programs or services that could be added, expanded or enhanced to provide better outcomes for seniors. The response was great, with numerous phone calls and letters from residents with suggestions and ideas on ways to improve. We will be holding a series of public hearings in Buffalo, Amherst and Hamburg next month to gather more information and hope that you can join in the discussion. For more information on the hearings or to submit your ideas, call 858-8526 or visit http://www2.erie.gov/seniorservices/ .
Of course, September is also the “back to school” month and again this fall seniors can enroll in University Express lifelong learning classes at any one of fifteen local sites. These are free, one-hour courses in a wide variety of topics including current events, history, science and medicine, wellness, and much more. Classes are designed to provide older adults with opportunities for intellectual stimulation, learning, and discussion in accessible settings. If there is a topic you are interested in or always wanted to learn more about, this is a great opportunity to join in discussions on academic topics alongside peers with similar interests. Find out more about each class by contacting the Senior Services department at the number or website above.
Finally, in late August I was joined by Senior Services Commissioner Tim Hogues as we called on the New York State Department of Health to place the Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center into receivership while a new owner for that troubled facility is sought. Recent abuse allegations at Emerald South are the latest example of the poor resident care and neglect which has increasingly come to light at the facility, which has been the site of two resident fatalities within the past two years. “Ruthie’s Law”, a measure to protect seniors in nursing homes and provide current information to their loved ones and family members, was enacted in June 2017 following the first of these fatalities. However, the current situation remains unacceptable and is obviously placing residents in danger as these abuse allegations are compounded by multiple accusations of unsafe working conditions for employees and conditions that put the public at risk. Erie County does not have the authority to close Emerald South, but we will remain vigilant as the state Department of Health continues its investigation.