Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PA Department of Aging Changes Leaders

On October 10, 2008, a Press Release issued by the Pennsylvania Governor's Office, entitled "Governor Rendell Announces Resignation of Secretary of Aging Nora Dowd Eisenhower", indicated that her resignation will become effective October 31, 2008, for her "to return to the private sector."

The Press Release quoted the comments of Governor Edward G. Rendell:

  • “Nora has been a strong, outspoken advocate for our state’s 2.5 million older adults, working hard to improve the level and quality of services offered to seniors across Pennsylvania,” said Governor Rendell.
  • “Nora helped to spearhead our administration’s historic 2003 expansion of the PACE/PACENET prescription assistance programs and led the 2006 effort to coordinate the programs with Medicare Part D. Her efforts have resulted in enhancements to PACE and PACENET while saving more than $700 million. She leaves with 120,000 additional older adults enrolled in PACE/PACENET, bringing total enrollment to 430,000.”
Secretary of Aging Nora Dowd Eisenhower was also quoted in the Press Release:
  • “The opportunity to serve older people and their families with my colleagues at the Department of Aging is the best job I ever had,” said Dowd Eisenhower.
  • “I am confident that our accomplishments will continue to strengthen the state’s aging service network for many years to come.”
The Press Release noted the Secretary's efforts and accomplishments during her tenure:
  • Working "to ensure that the state’s growing population of older consumers will be able to receive long-term living services in the setting they want the most – at home in their own communities."
  • Advocating "for increased opportunities for older people to give back to the communities they want to remain in for as long as possible."
  • Promoting "intergenerational civic engagement and volunteer opportunities focused on meeting the needs of others as a path for older Pennsylvanians to retain their health and vitality."
  • Initiating "a groundbreaking program to help doctors choose the most clinically appropriate medications for PACE/PACENET enrollees."
  • Enhancing "the Department of Aging’s outreach to underserved populations."
  • Initiating "comprehensive efforts to prepare the state’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging for the unique demands of serving members of the Baby Boomer generation."
Nora Dowd Eisenhower and her staff have accomplished much. She can be proud of a job well done.

On that same date, October 10, 2008, another Press Release revealed her successor: "Governor Rendell Appoints John Michael Hall to Serve as Acting Secretary of Aging."
Mr. Hall previously served as the head of Pennsylvania’s Office of Long Term Living, which operates under the departments of Aging and Public Welfare.
The Press Release identified Mr. Hall as "a nationally renowned expert in long term care."
[He was] recruited by Governor Rendell to develop innovations to reduce reliance on nursing facilities, and to make Pennsylvania a national leader in home and community based services to support seniors and people with disabilities to live independently, and have control over their services.
The Press Release highlighted Mr. Hall's accomplishments to date, which portend the direction that the Department of Aging will continue into the future:
  • Helped to pass Act 56, establishing assisted living as a licensed service in Pennsylvania. He is currently overseeing the effort to complete the regulatory process so that Pennsylvanians can take full advantage of this growing long term living service, and know what they are purchasing.
  • Spearheaded ongoing effort to build a system to integrate the Medicare and Medicaid payment systems to improve care for older citizens
  • Successfully promoted Pennsylvania’s unprecedented effort to equalize funding increases across all systems of long term living, including community and facility-based care.
  • Oversaw development of a highly successful nursing home transition program, moving nearly 2,500 people since March 2007. Pennsylvania is a national leader in providing support to people who wish to relocate to the community from nursing homes.
  • Established a first-of-its-kind training institute for assuring highly qualified staff working in the long term living system.
  • Created a quality assurance bureau to assure efficient and effective use of tax dollars which support Pennsylvanians with disabilities and seniors.
  • [Expanded] home and community based services by growing the program approximately 10 percent since he began.
Mr. Hall is a lawyer by training (Washington University School of Law - St. Louis), and also by experience, "having worked at Vermont Legal Aid Inc. from 1982 to 1996, serving as state ombudsman, and director of the Elderly Law Unit."

We wish him well as he continues the challenging, important work of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.