Secretary Of Dept. Of Agriculture Addresses Elder Abuse Task Force

Teresa Osborne, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, recently delivered the keynote address at the winter meeting of the Elder Abuse Task Force of Luzerne and Wyoming Counties that was held at Misericordia University.

Secretary Osborne was a catalyst in the effort to enact “Peggy’s Law,’’ which was designed to enhance the state’s response to elder abuse and exploitation. She also helped form the Northeast Behavioral Health Care Consortium (NBHCC), a four-county, nonprofit which implemented Pennsylvania’s mandatory managed care program that serves more than 90,000 people who receive medical assistance. Osborne also served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Law Enforcement & Mental Health in the City of Scranton.

Mountaintop resident Patrick Rushton, chair of the Elder Abuse Task Force and outreach/education manager at Victims Resource Center, Wilkes-Barre, introduced Secretary Osborne, who then addressed members of the task force and invited guests.

The Elder Abuse Task Force of

Luzerne and Wyoming Counties was formed in 2008 under the leadership of state Reps. Phyllis Mundy and Karen Boback. It is dedicated to reducing the number of elderly victims through prevention, education, identification and prosecution of elder abuse. It is co-chaired by the Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Area Agency on Aging and the Ethics Institute of Northeastern Pennsylvania at Misericordia Univ.

The task force works collaboratively with the Institute on Protective Services at Temple University and local community leaders to design programs that raise awareness of elder abuse. Since its inception, the task force has sponsored informational workshops on elder care abuse and elder sexual assault for health care professionals and law enforcement officials. It alsoconducts identity theft and fraudseminars in conjunction with thestate Office of the State AttorneyGeneral. The task force is a safeguardto protect the area’s elderly fromphysical, mental and financial abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The task force is comprised of 33members, including representativesfrom local district attorney offices, law enforcement agencies and elderservices providers, as well as elderabuse experts and state lawmakers. Its mission is to facilitate and developexpertise in prosecuting elder abuse; train professionals such as bankstaff and medical personnel whoare in constant contact with seniorcitizens to identify and report casesof potential fraud and abuse, andeducate the public about elder abuseand how to prevent and report it.