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The Daily Tar Heel

Local Officials Debate Long Term Adult Care

Orange County officials and state representatives gathered Tuesday night to hear concerns about the status of long-term adult care in the county.

The Orange County Adult Care Home Advisory Committee and the Orange County Nursing Home Advisory Committees voiced their concerns to the Orange County Board of Commissioners, Orange County's two representatives in the state house, one of its state senators, and a representative of the office of U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C.

Officials of both committees explained that the meeting was to open a dialogue between the state and the county so that concerns could be brought to the attention of the county's delegation in Raleigh. Also, the groups reminded the leaders present of the effects of past legislation and their hopes for future bills in the General Assembly.

Becky Bradley of the Nursing Home Advisory Committee expressed the committees' concerns over how residents' basic needs were often not met. Cherie Rosemond of the Adult Care Home Advisory Committee also detailed that many of these problems are direct results from understaffing and lack of proper training for much of the staff at these facilities.

Both Carol Teal, representing the Friends of Residents in Long Term Care and Gwen Phillips of the Orange County Department of Human Services expressed how state-level legislation has affected long-term adult care in the past and what they hoped to see in 2001.

Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said she felt the committees were heading in the right direction.

"We're doing the right thing by focusing on a few things," she said.

Insko emphasized that the key points to real change are altering the staff sizes and adjusting the ratios in addition to forcing the owners and operators of these facilities to disclose their finances. She said the reason is because taxpayers have a right to oversee where their money is going.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, addressed past attempts by the General Assembly. She explained that despite being able to lower certain staff-to-resident ratios last year, further efforts are required to bring real change.

Commissioner Alice Gordon said Wednesday that the board hopes "the legislature can do something concerning these various points," regarding long-term adult care.

Gordon also said the meeting opened her eyes to the many harsh details of life in the facilities the committees addressed.

Orange County Manager John Link voiced personal concerns at the meeting and offered the legislators present some suggestions.

"The meeting had good discussion," Link said.

"The legislators were very interested. I was very pleased."

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