Thrills, Comedy, Good Times...
And What Woodbury’s Venerable Seniors Thought!
A lively and fascinating visit from Sen. Al Franken was welcomed Saturday in Woodbury.
Senator Franken arrived at , located on Lake Road and Woodlane Drive. He had planned a low-profile visit to the entire campus, which included Woodbury Estates, Woodbury Health Care Center and Woodbury Villa.
'Courteous to All, Intimate with Few’
George Washington said, “Be courteous to all but intimate with few." Whether you are in blue grass or red grass country, the allure of a president, a governor or a senator is a natural draw, regardless of which side of the fence your leg is on politically. The residents from the Woodbury Campus were invited to come out and meet one of our two senators.
My impression from the residents and tenants living there is that they found Senator Franken a very versatile Senator. Senator Franken was 'courteous to all and intimate with all."
Woodbury Senior Living administrator Greg Anderson and staff set the stage of welcoming Senator Franken skillfully. Their skill as host and hostess supreme is best summed up by one of the extraordinary guests who visited today, “They should be as proud as we are happy to be here,” observed Mr. Greg Brown, President of The Waters.
A creative, discerning eye for welcoming residents and visitors is what makes even a formal affair carry the ambiance of an old leather chair next to a warm fire in December. Campus administrator Anderson marveled at how Senator Al Franken effortlessly managed to juggle all of his roles.
“Yet despite his hectic schedule," observed Anderson, (who is a rare breed himself), “he’s so relaxed when he visited and he made everyone feel at ease."
As the Senator visited and mingled, one could tell he cherished the company of the elderly. He treated them gently, even sweet and he proved a good listener; not at all cold, reserved or sanctimonious. When he did feel the time apropos to defend President Obama, he did effectively and respectfully without judgment to his elderly friends and constituents.
What the Elderly Thought
Thumbs up: Franken was informed by many elderly that they appreciated him as a committed person to public service.
Thumbs down: “Who’s going to pay the government’s bills?” One lady wanted President Obama to “stop spending money!”
Thumbs up: The family member of a resident felt the need to call Senator Franken’s office for help. The family appreciated the rapid response of the Franken team and successful outcome. Franken promised to pass on the compliment to his staff for this "constitutional service." He explained they take what they are supposed to do seriously.
Thumbs up and down: Before concerns about Medicare and Medicaid, Vet’s benefits and longer term care Insurance came up… Franken expressed his concern and worry about the latter throughout the visit. Up to two-thirds of our Woodbury residents may be on Medicaid at the Woodbury Health Campus. Franken worries about ‘having money for staffing’ the elderly appropriately across Minnesota as well as health issues related to addiction, substance abuse, and mental health.
Thumbs up: A few residents stood to greet the man, despite his insistence they should not do so for fear of the pain it caused to their bodies. They felt it was a way to express their thanks for all he is doing. He was surprised and felt admiration at the extent of the efforts of the Woodbury seniors.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hansen, from St. Paul, now a resident at the Woodbury Health Care Center gave Franken a warm reception. Hansen was a state representative for St. Paul, back in the 1970’s for almost 10 years.
Thumbs way up: Senator Franken gave 100% attention when administrator Anderson explained the music therapy services they offer with hospice patients and their families.
Anderson explained, “When loved ones are anticipating an impending death in the family, they may find it difficult to express feelings, thoughts, and last wishes. Music therapy is a service modality that can help to facilitate such communication between the family and the patient who is actively dying; as well as improving the quality of life for patients in a number of physical, psychosocial, and spiritual arenas as well”.
Franken wanted more details.
“It helps trigger memories. The rhythmic beat of music often seems to assist the patient’s ability to walk,” Anderson said.
More thumbs up: Franken expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the Health Care Center’s dedicated to conducting pet-assisted therapy — the sensory and social interaction of friendly, trained hospice dogs, and their handlers.
I do believe Senator Franken has looked into pet-assisted therapy with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] to improve the quality of life of our wounded warriors afflicted/scarred by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Several local dignitaries met us met us today to welcome Sen. Franken. Lisa Weik, Washington County Board of Commissioners; Shelly Schafer, Deputy State Director; Bethany Snyder, Field Representative.
Also in attendance: Ms. Patti Curran, President of Care Providers of Minnesota. Mr. & Mrs. Greg, President of the Waters, and Angela Regan, Marketing Director of the Woodbury Campus.
Senator Franken, his staff, residents and administrators were very happy and courteous to all — admiring one another’s integrity and professionalism; while focusing on the reason for the visit … to learn and discover more about our fellow man, and the human condition here in Woodbury.
James Madison, known as the "Father of the Constitution” for his role in shaping the American form of government said “If men were angels, no government would be necessary." There was a power today in gathering knowledge and information… and many, many laughs along the way.
There's real value for any community to be able to take concerns and issues to an empathetic elected official. When this happens, it means that a community's issues are further to the front of the public official’s consciousness.
Franken was serious about this, it seemed. He spoke to several elderly in many groups. He often got down on his knees to everyone’s level knowing some older folks are bound to wheelchairs. Most politicians would have spent a good portion of their time garnering future votes. Senator Franken allowed and welcomed any question. He had to interrupt some residents, as he transitioned from one part of the campus to another, who were busy exercising in groups, making bracelets, preparing to eat lunch, or relaxing in reading rooms around the campus. All in all Senator Franken was a very patient listener.
The Senator observed later, when he spoke to the beautiful residents, how he felt that they were loved by staff, as well as what great things the administrators and staff were trying to achieve. I know this to be true and I was personally delighted to hear it. One of the mottos/hopes and dreams on the campus is “gracious living and genuine care." Won’t we all pray and hope for this for our community residents and eventually…for ourselves.
Franken knew quite a bit about the veterans' rights, their sacrifice and what we owe them; and of local issues facing our elderly. Senator Franken went away, I’m fairly confident, knowing even more.
Some of us that met with him are not of his political ideology; and we may agree or disagree from issue to issue, but that is no reason not to try to get along and connect with our state's senator.
I was expecting Franken to come armed with a repertoire of jokes, a jovial spirit. We got this… but he was also straight-forward and unpretentious and anything but boring.
Senator Franken has to know that friends are always in ready supply at Woodbury Senior Living and they share a talent for making each guest feel special.
Thank you again Senator. Your appointment plate may be more than full, as Greg Anderson said, but we all noticed not even the smallest of details got past your patient and discerning eye.
About the Facilities
The Woodbury Health Care Center provides nursing home services, skilled nursing, transitional care, short term care, as well as rehabilitation, respite, and hospice care. The Estates offer assisted living for our elderly. They also have a memory care facility. At the Villa you’ll find many seniors living independently with the option of services.