Bay Aging marks 40th anniversary

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Oct 10, 2018 - 01:58 PM

Photo: Bay Aging celebrated its 40th anniversary on Friday with a reception at the organization’s transportation facility in Gloucester. Shown here with executive director Kathy Vesley-Massey, holding a resolution from the Virginia General Assembly commending Bay Aging, are Mathews board member Ed Clayton, left, and Gloucester board member Ron Saunders. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Bay Aging celebrated its 40th anniversary on Friday with a reception at the organization’s transportation facility in Gloucester. Shown here with executive director Kathy Vesley-Massey, holding a resolution from the Virginia General Assembly commending Bay Aging, are Mathews board member Ed Clayton, left, and Gloucester board member Ron Saunders. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Starting out as an agency on aging, delivering meals to needy seniors in the 10 counties of the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck, Bay Aging has grown by leaps and bounds over the last four decades.

Bay Aging celebrated its 40th anniversary on Friday with a reception for the organization’s community partners at its transit facility on Fiddlers Green Road in Gloucester. The reception, which was sponsored by Sona Bank, had been preceded by a series of picnics for the over 300 people who work for the agency.

From its humble origins in 1978, Bay Aging has diversified over time, establishing senior centers in each of the counties, providing adult day care, and offering housing services such as home repairs and weatherization. Eventually, the organization began building its own subsidized housing, with residents spending no more than a third of their income on that housing, said the organization’s executive director Kathy Vesley-Massey.

One of the premier accomplishments of Bay Aging, said Vesley-Massey, is Bay Transit, a regional transportation network that provides bus services on a demand/response basis to all 10 counties. That service has now expanded, said Vesley-Massey, with the establishment of the federally-funded New Freedom program, which takes passengers outside the regular service area and provides transportation on weekends, as well. She said the program is especially advantageous for veterans who need to go to VA hospitals and others who need specialty care outside the region.

Vesley-Massey said she’s excited about the health care services Bay Aging has begun providing over the last several years. She said there is an extremely high rate of individuals who leave the hospital only to be re-admitted within 30 days, but a lot of those re-admittances are preventable if only the patients have someone to work with them. In Bay Aging’s care transition program, staff social workers work with the patient, the healthcare system, and insurance companies to help reduce those re-admittance rates by helping patients understand and comply with their discharge instructions, helping them with meals, or teaching them to recognize a “red flag” and take action.

“So many people wait until night time to call 911 instead of going to the doctor during the day,” said Vesley-Massey.

Some people “go to the hospital and get a tune-up,” she said, only to come home to conditions in which they don’t have clean water or a proper diet and don’t know how to monitor their own condition. She said some people are even released from the hospital to homelessness.

“If you’re hopping from house to house on oxygen, it’s not a good situation,” said Vesley-Massey. “We try to help people who are high utilizers of clinical services to make sure they’re in a home with a stable situation.”

There is a difference between a doctor giving a patient discharge instructions and someone actually visiting the home, “sitting at your kitchen table, reviewing your orders and medication, and discussing how you take your medications,” she said.

Vesley-Massey said that, while local, state, and federal agencies provide some support for Bay Aging, “we’ve really moved into private pay in recent years.”

“Government grants are drying up just as we have so many older people,” she said, “and we need to generate the revenue to support it all.”

Bay Aging can’t meet all the needs of the people in the area it serves, said Vesley-Massey, so it’s trying to build a donor-supported foundation to help with the people who fall through the cracks—those whose income might be just above the level that qualifies them for services but still don’t have enough income to support themselves.

Services are also available through Bay Home Care, a division that’s private pay, said Vesley-Massey. Most rural areas don’t have adult day care services, but the Middle Peninsula has a center that still has capacity available, she said, and the service is payable through either Medicare or private pay.

Finally, Vesley-Massey said, Bay Aging offers Veterans Directed Care in partnership with the Richmond and Hampton VA Medical Centers. Through this program, a veteran can hire a person to aidewith bathing, dressing, and other daily care needs, and the service will be paid by the Veterans Administration. Entry into the program requires an order by a VA physician.

In recognition of Bay Aging’s contribution to the community, the Virginia General Assembly issued a resolution commending the organization for bringing continuous improvement to services for the elderly; having the vision to offer numerous solutions for older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers; and developing partnerships to deliver the services it offers.

Bay Aging is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit governed by a board of directors appointed by the counties it covers.