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December 22. 2013 8:31PM

Advocates urge reversal of adult day care decision in Rockingham County

BRENTWOOD — State representatives and families of loved ones affected by the planned closure of a county adult day care program are pleading with county commissioners to reverse their decision.

At a news conference Thursday, representatives criticized Commissioners Katharin Pratt and Kevin Coyle for their recent vote to end the Adult Medical Day Program on Dec. 31 after 33 years. They have complained about the program’s financial losses and low enrollment.Commissioner Thomas Tombarello voted against closing the program, which allows seniors and other adults to be dropped off during the day for social support, recreational activities, exercise, nursing supervision, therapy and other services.
Bob Radie, 76, of Epping, said he has Alzheimer’s disease and has been attending for the past six months.

“It has done a tremendous amount of good,” he said, adding that the care he has received has been “outstanding.”

Ron Strickland of East Kingston said his 61-year-old wife, Annette, also has Alzheimer’s and enrolled in the program in May. He’s her primary caregiver and said the program has helped him as well by giving him a break on the three days she attends. “It’s been a godsend,” he said. “She’s happy to come here and she has buddies here.”

The commissioners didn’t attend the news conference, but issued a memorandum summarizing the reasons why a majority of commissioners voted last month to close it while a study committee was still exploring ways to save it.

“The commissioners along with Steve Woods, director of long term care services, spent a great deal of time reviewing the program with the study committee. In April the board presented a plan to improve the program, enhance revenues, and increase enrollment. The plan was reviewed regularly and despite the best efforts of all involved, enrollment goals were never achieved,” the statement said.

Woods said there are 17 participants currently enrolled in the program. He said it has a capacity of 29 participants and three staff members.

According to State Rep. Norm Major, R-Plaistow, chairman of the county delegation, the program’s projected loss for this year will be approximately $45,000.

He said the loss is a “great reduction” from the approximately $250,000 loss of previous years.

In 2012, Major said approximately 90 percent of the program’s funding came from private payers and Medicaid, with the county picking up 10 percent.

He said 18 state legislators on the county’s executive board voted this month to support the program, but its fate lies in the hands of commissioners.

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