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Past now helping present

8/22/2013

By KALEY CONNER

kconner@dailynews.net

When she was in high school, Gina Anderson helped care for her elderly grandmother, who moved in with her family as her health began to decline.

Her career has come full circle, she said, and she now is working as director of the new Good Samaritan Society Adult Day Service in Hays.

"I truly believe this is where God put me," Anderson said.

The facility opened for business Aug. 12 and is accepting new clients. Four individuals already have signed up for the day service, which offers respite care for families caring for elderly or disabled loved ones. The facility, located in the Hadley Center at 220 E. Eighth, is open 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Anderson and certified medical assistant Jalynn Paulson are the only staff members now, but more will be hired as enrollment increases, she said. They strive to offer individualized activities to keep participants happy and engaged.

"We're going to offer memory games for people that have dementia," Anderson said. "We have a couple of people who like gardening, so we will be able to do some gardening out in the rose garden.

"We're very much person-centered, so we try to offer what the people like."

Anderson also is hoping to help clients create a scrapbook of their life stories they can share with family members.

"We're hoping we can capture some of that stuff before ... they can't do that," she said.

Other activities will include mild exercise regimens, arts and crafts and prayer devotionals. Two meals and a snack are provided each day by neighboring Pam's Bakery Shop.

The newly renovated facility also offers a "quiet room" equipped with comfortable recliners if clients need to rest, and a handicap-accessible shower in case it is needed.

Staff also can administer needed medications.

A half day of services -- four hours or less -- costs $45. A full day of service costs $75.

That cost pales in comparison, however, to the cost of nursing home living, Anderson said.

"For a month, it would be $1,500. Most nursing homes are about $4,500 a month now," she said. "In all reality, what we have to offer is a more one-on-one, individualized, home-like setting. Our goal is to meet the people where they are."

The facility hopes to begin accepting Medicare waiver payments soon.

Clients can use the facility every day, or on an occasional drop-in basis. Those receiving services must have a medical assessment on file.

Good Samaritan Society is operating the facility, but seed money to cover the cost of renovating and furnishing the space was raised by a grassroots committee. Donations always are welcome, Anderson said, noting the facility particularly needs additional magazines for clients to read.

For now, organizers are busy trying to spread the word, and they hope more families will sign up for the new service.

"We want them to stay at home as long as possible," Anderson said. "The elderly are living longer than they used to, so we think the need is really high here in Hays, Kan."

For more information about the facility, call (785) 621-4726.