A place known as the Adams County Poor House is now called the Golden Meadows Home, but for resident Tom Follis, it's just called home.
Follis, 60, has lived there since he suffered a stroke seven years ago. Follis grew up just south of Markle in Adams County, but after military service moved to Fort Wayne and did factory work for 37 years. After his stroke, working was not longer possible. He wasn't close to his family, and when his money ran out he had few options of where he could find the care he needed. He was lucky enough to have someone suggest Golden Meadows Home in Decatur when he was in rehabilitation.
“I tried to get into a couple of places in Fort Wayne, but it just didn't work out,” Follis said.
After talking with Thomas H. Magnan, director of Golden Meadows Home, he decided it would be a good fit.
“They makes you feel like you are somebody again,” Follis said.
The home takes its residents on outings, and Follis said there are times when he has no money to pay his way, but somehow someone else always does. After seven years, Follis said he feels like he has lived there all his life and is full of gratitude for the care he gets and the kindness he receives.
“With a bad heart and other health issues, I am glad I live somewhere that has 24-hour nursing,” Follis said.
First built in 1875, the residence burned down in 1940 and was rebuilt and reopened in 1942. Whole families used to live there, and in the ledger book there is a list of all the births and deaths of the residents. The very same ledger book started in 1875 is still in use today, with plenty of room for more residents in years to come. Currently the home is not taking families, but clients between the ages of 18 and 86 live there. Every resident has a disability of some nature.
The home has a men's and a women's wing, a chapel, recreation room, TV lounge dining room, kitchen and nurse's dispensary. The home has 11 full-time employees and another 11 who are very part-time – some only come in when called, Magnan said. Although it is a county-run facility, there are homey touches here and there, like lace curtains. Sports photos dot the hallways in the men's wing and movie and TV posters line the walls on the women's side. There is a barbecue area out back and a horseshoe court. Although the building is 70 years old, it has been well maintained and the floors shine with wax.
Currently the home has 23 residents, which is less than it has had in the past, Magnan said. Adams County pays for about 50 percent of the cost at the home, and a state-funded program – Assistance to Resident in County Homes or the ARCH program – pays for medical services for qualified residents. In 2009 the funding for that program was frozen. Patients who were already receiving money through the program still are, but new patients who need that sort of funding cannot get it. The end result is the home has had to look for other ways to help fund their clients and be more mindful of expenses when adding a new resident.
To be accepted into the home means the Adams County Commissioners must vote on allowing that person to become a resident. The home used to take more clients in from outside the county, but is no longer doing that. If a potential resident has a strong connection to the county or used to live there he might still be considered, Magnan said.
“Our residents will give us their Social Security checks to help pay the costs and we give them back $52 to spend as a personal allowance – not very much money,” Magnan said.
To help cover costs, the home has two fundraisers a year. On June 16 it will hold its 19th annual auction to raise money for the Special Needs Resident Fund. This fund helps to cover the medical, orthopedic, recreational, and social needs of its residents.
The home has used the money to buy walkers, eyeglasses, dentures and over-the-counter medications – things that are frequently not covered by medical assistance. It also uses the funds to take clients on outings in the community. Magnan said the home is trying to improve the quality of living for residents as well as give them activities to look forward to.