Join us to welcome new Secretary of Elder Affairs, Michael Festa. This event will consist of a presentation by Secretary Festa followed by his response to questions submitted by those attending. To facilitate the question and answer portion you are invited to submit questions in advance with your registration.
This event is free and open to the aging and disability services network in northeastern Massachusetts. Space is limited to those who RSVP. You can register all attendees from your organization at once by choosing your ticket quantity. Refreshments will be served. The site is fully accessible and computer assisted reading technology (CART) servcies will be utilized.
Here's what the Melrose Free Press wrote about Secretary Festa's appointment:
After months of speculation, Gov. Deval Patrick and Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby issued a press release last Thursday naming Mike Festa, D-Melrose, as state Executive Secretary of Elder Affairs.
Festa officially resigned at noon on Tuesday, in the House of Representatives chamber, and will be sworn in by Patrick on Friday, Oct. 5 at the State House.
“To join the governor’s cabinet is an extraordinary honor and something I’m really excited about,” he said.
Festa himself will begin in the Elder Affairs office on Tuesday, Oct. 9 reporting to Bigby and Patrick, the latter whom, according to Festa, wants to “take government from behind the desk of the bureaucrats … and get them out in the community.
“The governor wants someone who’s going to be much more proactive in reaching to the community and frankly respecting what they’re saying to government, about what we need to do to get it better,” he said. “There’s been a group of us [legislators] that have really tried to lead on some of the policy changes in the area of seniors. If you think about it, it really shouldn’t be the legislature pushing changes in laws for the uses of money and innovation. That should be an executive function.”
The first thing that needs to change, Festa said, is the direction and culture of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. As an example, he pointed to the Equal Choice legislation he co-sponsored in 2006, which mandated that elders who received support from the state could choose where they would receive state-supported services — in an institutional setting or at their home.
Daniel O’Leary, executive director of Mystic Valley Elder Services, said “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent” of seniors who receive state-funded services choose to receive that care in their local communities.
“The programs in place for the last 40-odd years that are tilted more to institutional placement need to be revamped,” O’Leary said. “We’re making progress in switching that whole paradigm around, but work needs to be done … it’s making the law really work for people.”
However, Festa said the Equal Choice legislation has yet to be fully implemented, citing a pre-screening requirement in the legislature that has not been instituted.
“This is a serious concern of mine and I have a lot of people saying, ‘What’s taking so long?’” he said. “I want it implemented, I want implemented now, I want to know where the impedances are and how to resolve them.”
Another concern of Festa’s involves protecting seniors in several areas where they could be vulnerable, including financial matters and fraud, identity theft and quality of care in homes.
“That is going to be a major focus for the first few months,” he said. “To reorganize the agency in this area so that we are doing a lot more for seniors to protect them in the first instance from becoming victims, and to ensure if they are damaged by someone or some entity, that’s they’re getting to the right people and the right support.”