Rosalie and Ensley White write down their ideas for the improvement of services for senior citizens at a
public hearing called by the Georgia Department of Human Resources in Thomson on Wednesday.
Photo by Elwood Hamilton
The Georgia Department of Human Resources for the Division of Aging Services held a public hearing Wednesday morning at the McDuffie County senior citizens center.
The hearing was one of three that will be held by the state to determine what programs for the elderly worked, need to be changed, or need to be implemented.
More than 150 seniors - many from McDuffie County - attended the hearing and were able to comment on the state of care for the elderly in Georgia. As expected, many complained of inadequate home health care and the high cost of prescription drugs.
"The elderly need help with doctor bills and medication," said Josie Rogers. "Doctors don't come out to the homes like they used to. We also need to increase nurse visits."
Many citizens also complained that transportation services for the elderly often leave them waiting for several hours for their ride to the doctor and pharmacy.
"We need to change transportation," said Juanita Benjamin. "People are not getting picked up on time. They need to have their prescriptions picked up also. All of those things are important."
While the state budget crisis is an obvious concern for many public agencies, Program Administrator for the Georgia Division of Aging Services Arvine Brown doesn't expect monetary constraints to affect his agency's plans.
While admitting that statewide cuts are "already coming down", he said that his agency doesn't anticipate any cut funding, but added that "it's hard to tell at this point."
However, Brown did stress the importance of learning what the elderly think of programs that are already in place.
"This won't just go in the black hole somewhere," he said of the hearing.
Other concerns raised by citizens at the hearing included more funding for the senior citizens' center, better pay for state healthcare workers, and a smoking ban on all public buildings.
"Smoking in all areas has got to stop," said Mary Beard. "It kills me. We're killing our planet with smoking."
The Georgia Division of Aging Services will gather information from its hearings, as well as its regional outreach programs, and will formulate a budget by April 1.
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