Slovakian mayor visits Cleveland Heights
Last month, after visiting with Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson, Milan Ftáčnik, the mayor of Bratislava, Slovakia, and United States Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick came to Cleveland Heights. They were in town to see the Margaret Wagner House of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging (BRI).
Ftáčnik and Sedgwick met with Richard Browdie, president and CEO of BRI, to discuss issues related to the placement of Slovakia’s aging population. The visitors were given a tour of the campus, which consists of the Margaret Wagner Apartments for low-income seniors, Adult Day and Partial Hospitalization programs and McGregor PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly).
The Margaret Wagner Apartments are fully renovated to accommodate the needs of residents. “The staff tries to accommodate the residents' social needs and works to keep them engaged,” said Browdie. The residents choose the program they want and that fits their needs. They can engage with staff and other residents, or not. And they have the option to live alone or with someone else. The medical needs or conditions of the resident do not determine his or her living circumstances.
The purpose of the three-day visit to Cleveland was to view the city’s future plans with regard to space planning and local resource use. Ftáčnik wants to be actively involved in finding solutions for his city, and said, “The closer you are to the ground, the more progress you make.” He was especially impressed by how low-income elderly could be accommodated with “apartment coordination and services” at the Margaret Wagner House. He said he had made the visit because he wanted to “see real problems and real solutions that worked.”
Ftáčnik and Sedgwick met with Mayor Jackson to discuss renewing the sister-city agreement between Cleveland and Bratislava. Ftáčnik sought to improve the “culture exchange” between Clevelanders and Bratislavians by encouraging tourism to Slovakia and having the cities “engage in smaller markets.” English is already being taught in the schools in Slovakia, and he hopes to increase Internet exchanges with schools in the United States.
Christina Sanders is a senior at Cleveland State University and a FutureHeights intern.