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Senior health and wellness fair offered information, socialization

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From free goodies and health checks to information on health care reform and insurance plans, there was something of interest for everyone at the Jefferson County Senior Health and Wellness Fair on Wednesday at the Watertown Municipal Arena.

Presented by state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, the annual event was expected to attract more than 1,000 senior citizens.

“For a lot of seniors, the unknown has been the biggest issue,” Mrs. Ritchie said. “For a lot of them, it’s very costly to buy all of their prescriptions. Not knowing how health care will change worries many.”

Seventy-three exhibitors from various sectors of the health-care community promoted their services and programs, including Genesis Healthcare of New York.

“Right now, a lot of people think we’re gone because Mercy closed,” said Nicole L. Davis, quality assurance manager and registered nurse. “That’s why we’re here.”

The home health service stayed intact after Mercy closed its doors. The business currently is managed by Samaritan Medical Center. That agreement will remain in place until a final purchase agreement and certificate of need are approved by the state Department of Health.

Mrs. Davis said Genesis provides skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, nutrition education, speech therapy and home health aides for Jefferson County residents. All services are billable to insurance companies.

She said the health-care reform shift of reducing repeat hospital readmissions means communities will count on home health services, such as Genesis.

“Patients tend to get better when they’re in their own home,” Mrs. Davis said.

Theresa L. Harmych said she came to the event looking for information on at-home assistance services.

“I picked up a lot of information on that,” the Henderson resident said. “All I have is Medicare and I’m wondering if that’ll still be OK.”

Mary Louise Ramsey, 81, also of Henderson, said she has been relatively happy with services covered by her Medicare plan. She said she and Floyd Kehoe, 91, attended the event to look around and enjoy music, performed by the Country Stompers.

Seniors also received a free lunch, and longtime United Service organization volunteer Mary M. Parry was recognized as Mrs. Ritchie’s Jefferson County “Senior of the Year.”

Mrs. Ritchie will host similar events in both Oswego and St. Lawrence counties next month.

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