Parish Council Votes in Opposition of State Health Department Changes

Staff reports
Ascension Council on Aging Director Darlene Schexnayder addressed the parish council at their meeting on March 15 concerning state health department changes and how that could affect Ascension Parish.

By a unanimous vote, the Ascension Parish Council passed a resolution Thursday opposing the transfer of the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs to the state Department of Health and Hospitals.

The council passed the resolution at their April 4 parish council meeting.

Ascension Council on Aging Executive Director Darlene Schexnayder expressed her concerns to the Parish Council at the March 15 in Gonzales about recent changes taking place in state government. Schexnayder announced she was asking for support from the parish council to oppose the “current takeover of the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs by the Department of Health and Hospitals.”

Schexnayder said in a prepared statement that the proposed move was being done under the veil of consolidating offices. She said she and other council on aging (COA) directors in the state are questioning why the move was being made when the current structure has worked well starting from the 1970’s. Schexnayder said this fall will mark 40 years of service that the Ascension COA has provided for the senior citizens of Ascension Parish.

“Seniors can call our offices and speak to a live person,” Schexnayder said. “We assist them in all aspects of needs and if we can’t help them, we find someone who can help them.”

Schexnayder said her office provides help to seniors filling out applications for other services, help to seniors navigating automated phone systems and help with navigating state agency websites.

She said her office is the only provider for transportation to doctor appointments, pharmacy visits, grocery shopping and social service agency visits for seniors and disabled passengers.

“Last year we served over 90,400 home-delivered meals and are on target to serve over 100,000 this fiscal year,” Schexnayder said.

Schexnayder said the senior centers provide seniors with a place to have a meal, socialize and have recreational opportunities along with educational programs. They also have increased homemaker services and wellness programs, she said.