MOUNT VERNON — After retiring, Ingeborg Kossmann enjoyed her leisure time spent in Florida until poor health made it hard to live alone. Kossmann stayed with relatives for a while, but found she missed her independence. But when she visited her family in Fredericktown for her granddaughter’s wedding, it eventually led to a permanent stay.
“I like the area,” said Kossmann.
She also likes the locale of her small house, near family while still enjoying a margin of independence.
In February 2007, Kossmann found through the Passport Program that she could have regular home care services and still live on her own.
“We have an aide that comes in four hours a day, Monday through Friday, to do grocery shopping, laundry and help with personal care. She has home-delivered meals delivered once a week and [the aide] helps with other meals,” said Debbie Beck, Passport case manager. “Also, there is a nurse that comes in once a week and sets up her medicines, and she has her emergency button.”
The program was an even bigger help for Kossmann when she had colonoscopy surgery.
“The doctor said she wouldn’t do my colonoscopy if I didn’t have someone to sit with me during the night,” said Kossmann.
“We were able to arrange for an aide to come in for a couple nights to stay all night with her,” said Beck.
On Monday, State Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl met with Kossmann and Beck, as well as Bev Rosich, public affairs director for Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging Inc., to learn more about the program.
“I’m on the aging and disability committee for the house and I’m learning what some of these programs do, and Passport is just one of the programs that is offered,” said Ruhl, who said she thought highly of the program and the services offered.
The Passport Program — an affiliate of the Area Agency on Aging — receives approximately 60 percent of its funding from federal government and 40 percent from state. Because of state budget cuts, the program’s funding has decreased.
As a result, managed enrollment was instituted. This form of enrollment will only allow 43 slots open on a first come, first serve basis, thus limiting the amount of individuals accepted each month.
“When slots are used for the current month, eligible consumers are placed on a waiting list until the following month,” said Rosich. “As of Sept. 17, there were approximately five slots left for the rest of the month.”
Within the nine-county area the program serves 1,764 clients; in Knox County, 142 clients receive services.
“One thing we are able to do under managed enrollment is utilize the home first option of enrolling people coming out of the nursing home into the Passport Program, without them using one of the monthly slots,” said Rosich.
With the elderly population steadily moving into post-retirement stage, the need for home care assistance has dramatically increased.
“The longer managed enrollment continues, the longer individuals will have to wait for a slot. Currently, the longest someone would wait would be two to three weeks; we anticipate by November or December, the wait will be four to five weeks,” said Rosich.