EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 19, 2013

Efforts to save senior citizen program gain sup

Commissioners to decide

Plans to save Rockingham County’s financially strapped adult medical day program are gaining support from the public and lawmakers.

County commissioners recently approved $278,000 to fund the Helen F. Wilson Adult Medical Day Program for another year.

But its future beyond 2013 remains in limbo. The money was part of the $77 million county budget.

The program’s future will be considered Friday by a subcommittee asked to determine if it’s feasible to continue operating the program.

Since 1980, the Brentwood-based program has provided social and medical services to the county’s elderly residents.

For Nancy Birdsall of Kingston, the program has helped keep her father-in-law, 87, out of a nursing home.

Birdsall and Nancy Russo of Epping, whose 91-year-old mother participates in the program, have teamed up with family members to fight to keep it open.

But they must convince the subcommittee and the three county commissioners that it’s worth the cost.

Commissioner Thomas Tombarello is convinced the program is worth keeping.

So is Rep. Debra DeSimone, head of the five-member subcommittee appointed by Rep. Norman Major, R-Plaistow. Major heads the Rockingham County legislative delegation.

The three said yesterday the county needs to do what it can to save the program. They said it provides a valuable service to senior citizens.

“The county does have a responsibility to take care of their elderly,” Major said. “The key of this is it keeps them out of a nursing home and makes them more independent.”

Although he supports the program, Major said it will be up to the subcommittee to recommend whether it should be saved. County commissioners said they will make the final decision.

Major said the consensus among local lawmakers is that the program is needed and terminating it should be a last resort.

“They want to be very careful because it’s something we don’t want to do,” he said.

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