As Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell was touring the Cottages at Brushy Creek Wednesday, a residential senior care center, residents were calling to him in the distance to visit their cottage.
Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell visits with residents at Cottages at Brushy Creek. The "Face of Aging" tour made stops at other Greer facilities.
A resident requested a private chat with Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell at Cottages at Brushy Creek.
Louise Atkins got Tony Kester’s attention when she told him her daughter, Faye Holly, worked on former Gov. Carroll Campbell’s staff. Kester remembered her daughter being on Campbell’s staff in Columbia and later in Washington, D.C. Kester is an administrator on McConnell's Council of Aging staff.
John Mansure, President of Greer Memorial Hospital, and Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell discussed some of the issues facing an aging population.
McConnell, truth be told, was as anxious to visit them as they were to meet and talk with him.
“I can understand their confusion on senior care,” McConnell, head of Council on Aging, said. “Until two months ago I didn’t understand what Medicare Option A, B, C, or D meant. I’m getting on the job training as I work my way through signing up for Medicare.” McConnell will be 65 in December and eligible for Medicare.
McConnell visited the Cottages, Oakleaf Village and Needmore’s senior care facilities and programs Wednesday as part of his staff’s “Face of Aging” tour of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and senior centers. The tour is to assess existing Aging services and gather suggestions on improvements from local seniors, adults living with disabilities, families, service providers, caregivers, residents, and community leaders.
“What I hear and understand is that we need a one-stop shop for information. We have 900,000 seniors in South Carolina and will double that to two million in 20 years,” McConnell said. “That is our number one challenge.”
The Cottages impressed McConnell. “I didn’t expect this,” he said. “This is one of the best facilities I have seen on this tour.”
McConnell said the Cottages were an example of seniors being provided a quality of life and care but they also faced financial hardships depending on their length of time in residence. “We need to slow down spending on senior medical care so people can control their assets to where they don’t have to use them until you need them,” McConnell said.
John Mansure, President of Greer Memorial Hospital, on the campus where the Cottages are located, concurred with McConnell. “What happens at some places is when the seniors run out of private funds, you get kicked out. I would like to see all new facilities accept Medicare funding.”
The most critical decision with seniors, said Mansure, is deciding where they want to live. “Some will want to live at home, if at all possible. Others may not have that option because in-home care is not practical or no family is nearby to care for them. I would like to see more senior daycare centers for the seniors.”
Mansure said he believes McConnell can begin the process to coordinate senior care. “Having (McConnell) take such an active interest in care of elders in South Carolina may help all of us to work together.”
“We’re trying to get the group out here and see what’s working and what’s not,” said Council on Aging spokesman Hank Page.
Page said McConnell will pursue having his agency represented on the DHEC board. “Council on Aging doesn’t have a representative and we want to change that.”
Residents at the Cottages didn’t hesitate asking questions or for private time. McConnell listened and responded to their comments and questions during the tour. Some commiserated their ailments with him. He could relate discussing knee therapy, and explaining why he had to turn his good ear to the questioner because the battery in his earpiece expired overnight.
McConnell said his biggest task is to decide, “How do we develop strategies. Until recently the office on aging was nothing more than a budget line.”