Office for the Aging assistant director named County Employee of the Year

Staff Reports Posted 11 November 2019 at 5:33 pm

Provided photo: Susie Miller (center), assistant director of the Office for the Aging in Orleans County, accepts the County Employee of the Year award on Thursday. She is joined by Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the County Legislature, and Jack Welch, the county’s personnel director.

ALBION – The Orleans County Employee of the Year has shown her dedication to senior citizens for many years. Susie Miller, assistant director for the Office for the Aging was honored last Thursday during an employee luncheon at Tillman’s Village Inn.

The employees of the month were also recognized at the luncheon. From the monthly honorees, a county committee picked the Employee of the Year.

Miller started working as a Community Service Worker in the OFA and two years later was promoted to Aging Services Specialist. She became the Assistant Director in January 2015.

In her time as an Aging Services Specialist and Assistant Director she has worked with thousands of older adults to navigate through health insurance options.

Information, education, counseling, and assistance may be given about health insurance including Medicare, Medicaid, employee coverage, Medicare Savings Program, Extra Help, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap policies, Medicare Part D, EPIC, Medicaid Managed Care, and Medicare Fraud & Abuse, said Jack Welch, the county’s personnel director.

Regular changes in the health insurance industry, and the growing baby boomer population, continue to result in a constant demand for health insurance counseling services. In 2018, the county estimated a savings of $1,129,000 to older adults in Orleans County through health insurance counseling from Miller and the county’s other health insurance counselor.

“These are dollars saved for older adults on limited budget to spend in the county to live,” Welch said.

Miller also volunteers to speak at public events to spread the word about what Office for the Aging has to offer. She has spoken at churches, civic groups, community events and summer picnics.

“This employee will tell you she loves what she does and is committed to the work she does every day,” Welch said. “She truly is an advocate for the clients that she serves.”

She also assists clients with conflict resolutions on medical claims that were not billed correctly. This can take hours and many phones calls. The numbers of clients served continues to rise yet the county funding remains stagnant.

Miller created a comparison meeting during open enrollment to be able to serve more clients that we could not fit in for a one on one counseling session. She also accepted the challenge of creating a schedule for a newly hired aide so that clients could get services sooner than later.

“It is not easy trying to schedule slots when certain clients request certain days and times, and also trying to schedule our aides to be in the same area of the county on the same day,” Welch said. “By changing up the schedule we will see some mileage savings in the future.”

Miller also was an important part of a large grant Office for the Aging received to start a volunteer transportation program in 2018.  Office for the Aging was granted $70,000 over a three-year period to make a needed service into a reality. That program now has 18 trained volunteers and 30 riders. There have been more than 100 rides given in seven months.

“She is a team player and is always asking what she can do to help out,” Welch said. “She keeps office morale up and truly cares about staff.”

The Employee Assistance Committee also recognized employees of the month. The EAP Committee receives nominations from fellow employees and department directors and then the nominations are reviewed and discussed by the committee and a selection is made.

The employees of the months for the past year were:

• October 2018: Scott Snook (Computer Services)

• November 2018: Torry Tooley (Sheriff)

• December 2018: Joanne Marek (County Clerk),

• January 2019: Jeffrey Gifaldi (Sheriff)

• February 2019: Ronald Mannella (Weights and Measures)

• March 2019: Elizabeth Jubenville (Social Services)

• April 2019: Rebekah Karls-Judd (Office for the Aging)

• May 2019: Susan Miller (Office for the Aging)

• June 2019: Wayne Krull (Highway)

• July 2019: Katie Harvey (Personnel & Self Insurance)

• August 2019: Danielle Figura (Mental Health)

• September 2019: Jennifer Szalay (Social Services)

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