Local TV special hears concerns from seniors

Tony Parra

The “Caring for Our Seniors” television program on KENW spurred a variety of calls from listeners on topics ranging from prescription-drug cost to nursing homes.
Eastern New Mexico University’s Patrice Caldwell moderated the show, which lasted over an hour, with a panelist of experts answering callers’ questions. Caldwell said that according to the 2000 census there were 35 million people over the age of 65.
Caldwell said one of the complaints seniors had was that senior citizens have trouble finding doctors and therapists to service their needs in rural areas.
“That is one of the most common complaints we receive,” Michelle Lujan Grisham, secretary of the New Mexico Aging Long-term Care Department, said. “New Mexico has one of the lowest reimbursement rates for physicians, so they choose not to service those areas. Legislation passed to have the gross receipt tax eliminated on medical services, so that should help.”
A caller from Roswell asked about the state of nursing homes after her father suffered what she called a “terrible” death in the state of New York.
“They no longer are entitled to their human rights (once they go into nursing homes),” the caller said. “The legal community needs to get this mess fixed.”
Roswell attorney Tom Dunlap said nursing homes are understaffed and overworked. He said there are firms, which specialize in lawsuits against nursing homes.
“We don’t receive numerous complaints about nursing homes,” Lujan Grisham said. “Families should expect a high quality of care. Owners and operators are not held accountable. Legislation passed a patient protect act to give people more options (for nursing care). You can have the nursing homes install a camera in the patient’s room.”
A caller directed a question to Sen. Stuart Ingle on the topic of rising premium costs.
“I don’t know of anyone with insurance in New Mexico, who’s premiums haven’t gone up,” Ingle said. “All of those things have happened, because the cost of Medicare has skyrocketed all over New Mexico. We can mandate a 10 or 5 percent maximum increase (on premiums) but if we do that, companies won’t come in and do business.”
At the beginning of the show, there were video clips of senior citizens from the eastern plains of New Mexico expressing their concerns for the issues they face. Wanda Grider of Portales said she doesn’t want to have to depend on her children. She said she wants to be able to get by on her own.
“The senior citizens center in Portales is one of the greatest things we have done to my knowledge,” Grider praised. “It keeps our minds at work with ceramics, games and quilting.”
KENW employees said there were 25 calls and they were all answered.
Senior citizens in Roosevelt County will get a similar chance to voice their concerns today at the Community Services Center. CSC officials are holding a public forum, not in conjunction with KENW, at 12:30 p.m. at the CSC senior meal site.
CSC representatives will listen and document the citizens’ statements of need and relate the information to the area agency on aging.