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Senior Services hope for smooth transition

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó The transfer of Rowan County Senior Services Department to Rufty-Holmes Senior Center this summer should be a smooth one, say officials from the Salisbury nonprofit and the county.
County commission-ers voted in February to dissolve the department and move most of its programs to the center on July 1. Transportation services will be split into a separate department.
Rufty-Holmes Executive Director Rick Eldridge said he expects the transfer to go well enough that local seniors should not notice a difference.
ěWeíve had senior services in the same building here for 23 years,î Eldridge said. ěEven though we havenít been intimately involved in the services they provide, we have certainly worked with them and been aware of those things over the years.î
He said Rufty-Holmes has been able to stretch the transition out over two to three months instead of changing everything at once.
Four county positions will transfer to Rufty-Holmes, and the center already has hired employees to fill two that became vacant. One works primarily in the congregate nutrition program, and the other works with the information and assistance program.
Rowan County is still in charge of those programs, Eldridge said, but Rufty-Holmes has taken over their day-to-day operation. The two new workers are still paid by the county until they, along with two other county employees, officially become Rufty-Holmes employees on July 1.
ěI think it will make things easier that theyíre already working with us now, because itís an opportunity to get their feet wet,î Eldridge said.
Eldridge said the centerís goal is to have no changes except in administration. The county has committed to fully fund its services at the current level, he said.
ěIf there are any changes in services and service levels, it wonít be because of the county or Rufty-Holmes but because of state and federal funding,î he said.
Department of Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes said the level of service there should not be affected either.
Her department will handle the in-home aide and adultdaycare programs currently run by the senior services department.
ěThe clients should not realize any difference whatsoever,î Wilkes said. ěWe are very accustomed to providing those services already. Weíre just absorbing that work.î
Nancy Brandt, social services program director, said the department will take on about 20 to 25 more in-home aide cases and 10 to 15 more adult daycare cases.
ěItís going to double our caseloads in those two programs,î Brandt said. ěThose caseloads continuing will be dependent on state monies that get allocated to us through the legislature once they pass the budget.î
She said social services will have access to the same source of funding for the programs that senior services does now. As with Rufty-Holmes, the amount of funding will depend on the state.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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