Retirees' News: March 2003

The University of Manitoba Retirees' News
Volume Seven, Issue One
March 2003

Let’s Get Together

For those of us living in Manitoba, it has been a long, cold winter, especially these last two months. And while I am writing this, it looks as though winter is reluctant to give up its icy grip for at least another couple of weeks. However, the days are getting longer and the sun shining through the window is warming up the room, so spring is on its way and its time to think about getting together at the next President’s Reception for Retirees. So mark your calendar, Saturday, April 12th, the Beausejour Room, University Centre, Fort Garry Campus. Every thing gets underway at 2:00 p.m. There is plenty of parking available at Parking Lot A by the Science complex and the parkade attached to the Helen Glass Centre.

As we talk with our friends and acquaintances, one recurring topic is the loss of vision that others or we are experiencing. Unfortunately, as we grow older this is a fact of life. One of the major causes of this loss is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is estimated that up to 25% of the population between the ages of 65 to 74 and 35% of the people aged 75 and over has this disease. While most of those with AMD do not become totally blind, their ability to see clearly is greatly diminished. As their world is gradually reduced to a vague blur, they find undertaking ordinary daily activities more challenging. There is no cure for AMD but there are things we can do to reduce to reduce the risk. For those who have AMD, treatments are constantly being develop that can assist them to maintain as active and productive life as possible.

Faced with this reality, many of us would like to learn more about “AMD; it causes and developments in its treatment”. To this end, we are fortunate to have as our featured speaker Dr. Frank Stockl. Dr. Stockl is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Manitoba and Vitreo-Retinal Staff Ophthalmologist, Manitoba Clinic. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba and did post-graduate training at McGill University, the University of Texas and the University of British Columbia.

Reading the Bulletin, the local newspaper, or the news appearing on the University’s Home Page, we find that much has been happening at the University since we met last October. To put this all into perspective, Dr. Emőke Szathmáry , President will highlight the developments taking place. In all likelihood, a national association of university retiree organizations will be established this coming May. John Mundie will let us know what this means for us at Manitoba.

After the formal part of the program, refreshments will be served and you will have time to talk with those with whom you worked at the University. Don't forget to bring your spouse and invite those survivors of retirees that you know to come along. Please RSVP by April 4th by calling 474-8359 or e-mail Kathy_Vitt@umanitoba.ca.


Fall Reception

We have tentatively scheduled the President’s Reception for the Fall on Saturday, October 18th. Pencil it in and we will confirm it in the Retirees’ News in September.


College and University Retiree Associations of Canada (CURAC)

The response to the questionnaire mailed out by the steering committee regarding the formation of CURAC was very positive. As a result, a draft constitution has been developed and plans are well underway to hold the inaugural meeting of the Association on May 26, 2003 in Halifax.

A web site has been created for CURAC. It will provide you with details about the new association, its structure, its draft constitution and the minutes of the steering committee. Thanks to Ian Rollo, you can access the site by going to the University of Manitoba home page at the address noted below, click on Faculty and Staff, then on to University of Manitoba Retirees Group on the left hand side of the page for Faculty and Staff. This will bring you to the retirees’ home page. There you will find National Association. A click on that takes you to the CURAC web site.

John Mundie and Nora Losey will be going to Halifax for the meeting. If any other retiree is in or will be in the area and would like to attend the meeting, you are welcome to do so. Registration, hotel accommodations and a tentative agenda are all available at the CURAC web site. Or you can contact John Mundie and he will send the material on to you.


Where are you?

We are known as a very mobile society and retirees are among the most mobile of any group. For example, each time we send out the Retirees’ News, we get several letters returned with the stamp, address unknown. Most recently, the computer program that runs the retirees’ e-mail list sent back a list of some 60 retirees who can no longer be reached because of changes in their e-mail address.

So please, if you are planning to move or if you have changed your e-mail address, let us know. You can either contact Kathy Vitt at 474-8359 or John Mundie at 256-8245 or send him an e-mail at mundie@Ms.UManitoba.CA. Thanks.


What you wanted to know about the Medication Information Line for the Elderly

We had the highest turnout ever (about 140 persons) for the presentation by Dr. Ruby Grymonpre on “Challenges with Drug Use by Older Persons” at our reception on October 19, 2002. In her presentation she made reference to the Medication Information Line for the Elderly (MILE).

Since its formation in 1985, this service has offered advice to over 35,000 persons residing in the Province. The primary focus of MILE is to assist older persons in knowing about their medication and how to use it. However, increasingly it has responded to calls from health care professionals in response to innovative changes to health care services and the expansion of patient focused services by pharmacists. The overall effect has been a higher quality of living for older persons through the appropriate use of medications.

MILE is operated by the Faculty of Pharmacy. It costs about $100,000 per year to offer this service. Of this amount, about 30% comes from a grant from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, 30% from operating funds from the University, and the remainder from donations by pharmaceutical firms. Unfortunately, at the time of Dr. Grymonpre’s presentation in October, donations from this latter group were substantially lower than what was received for the same period in the previous year. Therefore, it looked as though MILE may have to cease operation by February 2003 due to a lack of adequate funding.

Fortunately, this did not happen. Given the importance of MILE to the citizens of Manitoba, on November 20, 2002 the University made a commitment to assure the continuation of MILE until at least March 31, 2004. During this interval, the University is exploring the development of a long-term funding model for MILE. Currently discussions are taking place between the University and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority on increasing the support from the Province. Other sources of funding also are being investigated. A number of retirees are very concerned that adequate funding be in place by March 31, 2004 and have offered to lend their support, if required, to assure this happens.

If you want more information about MILE, go the University of Manitoba Home Page at http://www.umanitoba.ca/, click on Faculties, scroll down to Pharmacy, click, and look for Medication Information Line for the Elderly. This will bring you to its web page.


Changes from Staff Benefits Office

On November 15, 2002, the Staff Benefits Office mailed out a letter to those retirees who are receiving benefits. That letter contained your personalized identification cards for Great West Life Supplementary Healthcare and/or your Blue Cross Dental Plan. Also you received new supplementary Healthcare and Dental Claim forms. You need to send them directly to either Great West Life or Blue Cross when making a claim. Please do not send them to the Staff Benefits Office.

If you run out of forms, you can download additional ones from the University Home Page. Again, go to the address listed above, click on Administration on the left hand side of the page, look for Human Resources Department, click on it and then onto Staff Benefits Office. When it pops up, look for Download PDF Files on the left side of the page. A click on that will take you to the forms you need. One of the advantages of accessing the forms this way is you can type in the information required to complete the form before printing it. Makes it a great deal easier than trying to filling in the spaces by hand. For those of you who do not have a computer, don’t despair. You can always phone the Staff Benefits Office at (204) 474-7428 or write a letter to Staff Benefits Office, 180 Continuing Education Complex, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 and they will send the forms to you.

The Staff Benefits Office also would like to know if there has been a change to the person you named as a beneficiary for any insurance proceeds that may be payable upon your death. For some of us it has been awhile since we retired and we may have forgotten just whom we named a beneficiary at the time of our retirement. (This forgetfulness is sometimes referred to as a “senior’s moment”. I seem to be having lots of them.) If this is your situation, contact the Staff Benefits Office and inquire as to whom you designated as your beneficiary. The same thing applies to whom you have named as your dependents. And don’t forget to send them any change in your postal address. It would be much appreciated.


Good News – We did it again.

Once again the retirees at the University have come through with “over-the-top” support of the United Way Campaign. Our group pledged over $59,700 towards the work of the United Way. This was 104% of our goal of $57,500. Congratulations. Norm Long, our representative on the University Campaign Committee, thanks everyone for continuing to support the many agencies funded through the United Way.

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