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Program specialist on board

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JoAnn Guay

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By Ben Orcutt -- borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- JoAnn Guay says she's anxious to settle in to her new job as the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program specialist with the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.

"I love it. It's very rewarding for me," the 59-year-old Guay said. "I worked in Winchester for about 15 years with an oncology practice. I was a patient financial counselor there and enjoyed it, enjoyed the patients and enjoyed the type of work that I was doing. But working for a nonprofit has always been on my list of things that I wanted to do."

Roberta V. Lauder, Guay's supervisor and director of community resource development for the local agency, said she's glad to have Guay on board.

"We are absolutely delighted," Lauder said.

Lauder said the federal government provides the funding for VICAP through the Virginia Department for the Aging.

Guay said she has several responsibilities, including assisting volunteers.

"Community outreach is primarily what I'm going to be doing, so getting word out to the community about the VICAP services that we have and letting people know who are Medicare eligible, low income especially, there is this service provided to them at no cost to answer their questions they might have about Medicare," she said.

Guay said the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging can sign up those eligible for services online.

"Everything is electronic anymore and Medicare.gov is no different, so we are able to bring a client in and have an actual consultation with them and answer their questions," Guay said. "We can help them apply online and choose many different prescription drug plans. We don't make a choice for them or don't recommend any, but we certainly can answer all their questions they have about it, show them the comparison charts and let them decide."

The need for VICAP services is acute these days, Guay said.

"I want to say yes because it's more complicated with health care reform and there's so many options that they have for prescription drug coverage, but there are a lot of different eligibility requirements that fall into play," Guay said. "They get a lot of information in the mail when they become eligible for Medicare and they don't understand it."

VICAP services are free, and appointments can be made by calling the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging at 800-883-4122, extension 303.

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