May 2, 2002

State Officials Stop At Care Center During Tour Of Region's Facilities

First District State Rep. Sam Berkowitz, D-Memphis, led state experts on nursing home care on a tour of local facilities in northeast Missouri, including the Scotland County Care Center, on April 26.

"I really wanted to show off the high level of care that the nursing centers in the First District offer," said Berkowitz. "I am continually impressed by that level of care, and I think my guests were as well."

The tour group included representatives of Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine's Aging in Place program, along with representatives of the Alzheimer's Association, the Missouri Division of Health and Senior Citizens, the Missouri Health Care Association, the state's ElderLynk program and representatives of two area nursing homes.

"The biggest impression I came away with was how friendly and caring all the staff members were at all these homes," said Katie Dunne of the Alzheimer's Association. "Everyone I came into contact with was extremely interested in their work and in the welfare of the people they were serving."

The group met in Kirksville and toured Schuyler County Nursing Home in Queen City, Scotland County Care Center in Memphis, Clark County Nursing Home in Kahoka, Lewis County Nursing Home in Canton, Knox County Nursing Home in Edina, and Twin Pines Adult Care Center in Kirksville.

"I had a really refreshing moment on this trip," said Dunne. "One of the residents of one of the facilities came up to us and said she had to tell us what a great job the employees of the facility were doing."

"That's the kind of thing I wanted to show our guests," said Berkowitz. "So often we only hear stories of abuse or mistreatment in nursing centers. We don't hear the success stories like we have here in the First District."

Rep. Berkowitz gained special knowledge of the nursing center situation throughout the state of Missouri in his role as chairman of the House Interim Committee on Nursing Home Caregiving last fall. During that committee's hearings, members traveled around the state, touring facilities and taking testimony from elder care experts, residents, families and citizens. The committee spawned several pieces of legislation on various topics of elder care that are now working their way through the legislative process.

"What we saw on this trip really made us feel good," said Berkowitz. "The people who work in these nursing facilities are on the front lines of the senior care system in the United States. Now we as legislators and state advocates for the elderly must do all we can to make sure that these dedicated workers have all the resources they need to care for some of our most vulnerable citizens."

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