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Improvements at Stern Village to Include Generators and Computerized Recordkeeping

First Selectman Herbst also took a Senior Commission member to task for Facebook comment.

Improvements are planned at Trumbull’s Stern Village senior citizen housing complex to avoid the difficulties faced by the residents there during this month’s massive blizzard.

First Selectman Timothy Herbst told the town’s Senior Commission Friday morning that the improvements include the installation of emergency generators in case the complex loses electricity in another storm.

Stern Village has electric heat, and many residents rely on oxygen ventilators and other medical equipment that run on electricity, so they cannot go without electricity for long, Herbst said.

Later, at a press briefing in his Town Hall office, Herbst said the problems that might occur at Stern Village due to a prolonged power outage were obvious after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, but the Housing Authority did nothing to act on a report’s recommendations to install emergency generators and make other improvements to the town’s emergency response at the complex.

Another improvement is the computerization of residents’ records, including their special medical needs and medicines, he said.

Herbst said a Stern Village tenant who was found dead in one of the apartments by emergency personnel who were evacuating residents following Hurricane Sandy was misidentified for a time because of the failure to keep those records up-to-date.

He was quick to add that it is not known what caused the person’s death. But the misidentification was detected before any relatives were informed, Herbst added.

A Facebook Comment

Herbst also took a member of the commission to task for a comment he made on social media related to the blizzard.

Commission member Gary Raytar posted a comment on the evening Feb. 9, less than 12 hours after the storm ended, noting that snow plowing appeared to be better in other towns. “Just curious. Not to be the complainer but Easton, Weston. Is plowed. Milford that had more snow than anyone is plowed,” read the comment, according to a screen shot obtained by Trumbull Patch.

“If you want to make a political statement, you want to come after me, that’s fine,” Herbst told him, “but the people who work for the Public Works Department don’t deserve comments like that.”

“I never made a negative remark about the Public Works Department,” Raytar replied.

Then Senior Commission Chairman Rachel Yahwak took him to task for identifying himself as a Senior Commission member when he spoke at a Stern Village residents’ meeting. She instructed him not to speak as a commission representative unless specifically authorized to do so.

Herbst said he has run into a problem with members of several commissions, including the EMS Commission, the Senior Commission and the Housing Authority board, meddling in the administrative functions of town departments.

He cautioned the Senior Commission members against trying to “micromanage” the Senior Center.

TrumbullSr February 23, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Meddling? This egomaniac must go. Anyone who questions anything that goes on in town is publicly chastised. Anyone who speaks up is vilified in the media. Who the Heck does this boy think he is and where does he think he lives. Trumbull is NOT Cuba. The people deserve a voice and respect. Tim must go.
celtictee February 23, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Sorry but if this article doesn't scare you then you obviously have been taken over by an alien life form. Wake up people...
Marty Isaac February 23, 2013 at 01:18 PM
For the record, I think Gary Raytar is one of Trumbull's best: High moral character and a champion for those in need. He gives his time and energy freely because he simply is a kind soul. In addition to his involvement with the elderly in Trumbull, Gary has volunteered literally hundreds of hours to support the Fairfield Follies theater program. Simply stated, without his involvement, Follies could not have happened over the past 3-4 years. I wish we could fill our town with people like Gary.
jg February 23, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Members of boards regularly identify themselves by position and it is perfectly appropriate as long as they don't claim to speak for the body. I sat on a panel where Carl Massaro was introduced as Chairman of the TC and no one said that was inappropriate (and it wasn't) even though he was speaking on behalf of a particular position and not on behalf of the entire board. I'm confused about the administration's perspective on liability. The FS took the nurse out of Stern Village because she was being asked to involve herself in levels of care coordination that might create liability. Now he wants the town to track the medical requirements of residents? So, when a storm comes and the town hasn't ensured that Mrs. Smith has access to her newest prescription are we creating liability? Is Stern Village independent living for low-income seniors or some form of managed care? We better get a clear understanding and act on it in a consistent manner or the impact on the town could be huge. Lastly, with so much public and press attention on SV would anyone expect less than constant presence by the THA board and the administration? The real tests will be after the permanent director is hired and 6 months, 12 months and 24 months have passed. Then we will find out if the commissioners that never were involved with SV before have made it such an important part of their lives. I hope they do and, if so, God bless them for that commitment.
celtictee February 23, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Excellent point jg. Unless SV were properly organized under medical charter as an assisted living residence it would be against federal HIPAA laws to obtain that individuals medical information. As you stated, the town would then be liable if someone ran out if medication during a storm etc A chartered medical facility is held to a higher standard of law than low income housing.
Tom Kelly February 23, 2013 at 02:40 PM
It's getting to the point where those who do not support Mr. Herbst don't even need to comment after he speaks. His own words do him worse damage. I don't know how he defends to the people of Trumbull the latest though...appointing four new commissioners to the THA with no previous housing experience, who immediately fire the attorney and reach a settlement with the Executive Director, hire a new acting Executive Director who also has no experience, supposedly because she read about Stern Village in the newspaper and volunteered to help out. That's Mr. Herbst's story. If so, he is perfectly ok with having a new board with no experience hire a person with no experience for a job that wasn't posted even in order to find a more qualified "interim" director. All of this during the height of the winter snow season. And Mr. Herbst asks us to believe that all of this is non-political and he's simply trying to make things better at Stern Village? I'm still waiting to hear why Mr. Herbst appointed a new commissioner to the THA who was at risk of being told she had to leave Stern Village for smoking in the Congregate Building around people with oxygen? That doesn't sound like "safety first."
Kathleen McGannon February 23, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Tim cannot help but create his own problems. If someone shows up at a meeting, Tim frequently introduces them. He did this at the Trumbull Day commission meeting when he introduced Vick Tesoro (who attended as a taxpayer) as a member of the Town Council and a rep of District 3. She was not in attendance as a rep of the TC, so please show me the difference. I was at the meeting where Mr. Raytar introduced himself and stated that he was a member of the Senior Commission and, as such, wanted the residents to know that he cared about them. He never suggested that he was speaking for the commission. (Clearly, the senior commission does not care about them, IMHO. ) there seems to be an effort to drive Mr. Raytar off the commission. Just watch the Senior Commission meetings and see how he is treated by the chairperson, and now by the FS. This is how this administration operates. Get rid of anyone who will not regurgitate the party line. It is disgraceful. PS. Clearly, Mr. Herbst is monitoring people's Facebook accounts as well. Wherever does he find the time to follow every remark and comment and still be efective at running the town. He, himself, was chastised by the administrators of We Are Trumbull facebook page for posting some nasty remarks. What goes around, comes around.
Kathleen McGannon February 23, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Sorry. *Vicki*. Tesoro :)
Cindy Katske February 23, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Yes, it is disgraceful! I was at the THA meeting at which Mr. Raytar introduced himself to the Stern Village residents as a member of the Senior Commission. What on earth could possibly be wrong with identifying oneself as a member of a commission?? Unbelievable. I certainly hope Mr. Raytar continues to do his good work for the benefit of Trumbull's seniors. We need more volunteers like him!
Cindy Katske February 23, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Hmmm, the minutes of the 2/13 Trumbull Day Commission meeting indicate that a Board of Finance alternate member gave her opinion on how she thought the Board might act on a request for funds to be used by the TD Commission. Was or will she be chastised for speaking for the Board at another commission's meeting? Or are board members chastised only when they are not in the FS's camp?
Joan February 23, 2013 at 04:25 PM
When did Mr. Herbst become so concerned about attacking public officials in the media? He has been the biggest offender of all in this regard. His public excoriation of school superintendent, Ralph Iassogna, during the snowstorms in 2010/2011 is one example that is hard to forget. And that's without mentioning that his criticism was later proved to be unjustified. Do as I say, not as I do--that seems to be the philosophy of Herbst & company.
Kathleen McGannon February 23, 2013 at 04:28 PM
From the 2/13/13 Trumbull Day Commission meeting minutes: First Selectman Herbst asked for a consensus from the group regarding him making a request of the Board of Finance for the $13,000 which was previously in an account that had been allocated for Trumbull Day, but re-allocated for the planned 2012 concert, which ultimately did not occur. Cindy Penkoff, a Board of Finance alternate, stated that she thought the Board of Finance might look favorably on such a request, but reserved judgment as to what the final decision of the Board might be. I wonder whether Cindy Penkoff will be chastised for speaking for the BOF at another commission meeting. The FS chastised Gary Raytar for simply introducing himself at the Stern Village meeting as a member of the Senior Commission. He most certainly did NOT say he was representing the commission nor did he speak for the commission. If what he did was egregious enough to be chastised for it, then Cindy must be in a BOATLOAD of trouble for her comments AS a member of the BOF at the Trumbull Day commission meeting. Hmmm. Who thinks she is in trouble with Tim?
Tom Kelly February 23, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Another thing that Mr. Herbst MUST familiarize himself with is HIPAA. For those of you who do not know it, it is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA has very strict rules regarding the PRIVACY of individually identifyable health information. A government agency or their agent or employee (in this case, the Executive Director of Stern Village) cannot compel tenants to provide this information. AND EVEN IF THE RESIDENTS CONSENT TO RELEASING SUCH INFORMATION VOLUNTARILY, the THA will have a legal duty to protect that information from being seen by anyone who is not specifically authorized to do so. The OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS enforces the HIPAA privacy rules. I urge the THA Commissioners, Attorney Callahan, and Ms. Polansky to familiarize themselves with the requirements for privacy, and act accordingly so as not to put the THA at risk for violations and enforcement actions or lawsuits. Additionally, THA must ensure that no discriminatory actions are taken based upon information contained in individually identifyable health information.
Joe Smith February 23, 2013 at 07:01 PM
What do you know... Herbst writes another letter about nothing. If only he was as vigilant about what's happening with his golfing buddies at AFB and O&G. He should write a letter about the progress of construction. And, BTW, the only communities who took longer to plow were Bridgeport and New Haven. That's a fact, Jack. If Herbst is troubled by that, he should appoint an independent commission to look into which democrat he can blame for the pitiful response to the snow. Then he should write another one of his big, bad letters.
Roberta H. February 23, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Remember when the former head of the Trumbull Pisces was silenced at a meeting about a proposed new swimming pool? He was asked to leave my a police officer! Recently, I saw video of our tax collector and Joanna Leone, new THA commissioner, clogg the public comments section of a BOE meeting to reprimand a Board member. Their comments had nothing to do with education and their point was that he was out of line as a Board member for criticizing a THA meeting. The purpose of a BOE meeting is to discuss policy, budget, and programming issues impacting children, not publicly retaliate for political reasons. And I don't believe either have any school aged children!
jg February 23, 2013 at 11:06 PM
This is a huge issue. HIPAA compliance requires stringent safeguards for any personally identifiable medical records. Health care organizations have spent billions on information security and access management solutions because of it. Because HIPAA deals with private information the fines for violations are large. Is the THA equipped to gather and store such information? Not likely.
Linda Ciocci February 27, 2013 at 01:03 AM
As I sat in on the senior commission meeting Friday, I was thinking to myself how happy I am not to be associated with most of them. It's pitiful the way they speak to Gary. I doubt whether Gary will be re-appointed. I had an incident yesterday morning (Monday) with our esteemed chairman. Rachel Yahwak lashed out at me in the center for no reason. She was screaming at one of the members. I was just standing there in the reception area with my mouth open listening. I couldn't believe how she was speaking to this member. As she passed by me, she screamed at me "what are you doing ease dropping". Believe me, I was not ease dropping - didn't have to. I'm sure everyone heard her in the center. In my opinion, she is not a good embassidor for the senior center.
tina March 02, 2013 at 07:58 PM
If our local government continues to follow in the footsteps of congress we are in for dire times ahead. People, we need to WORK TOGETHER and keep petty little problems off the board. The people of Trumbull have elected you to help them out and it is your job to do so whether they are republicans, democrats, independents or pink and purple with two heads. We are all the same.

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