Sheriff adopts program providing welfare checks for elderly, ill, shut-ins

By: Jessica Horne - Staff writer

LUMBERTON — Sheriff Burnis Wilkins is launching a program to check on the welfare of the elderly, sick or disabled who live alone or do not have family members that can routinely check on them.

The ARE YOU OK Program is an automated telephone dialing system designed to provide a means of checking on residents on a consistent basis.

“We’re trying to do anything we can to help the citizens of our county,” Sheriff’s Office Chaplin Jimmy Hunt said.

The program’s goal is to eliminate the instances of elderly death in the county, Hunt said. The program can help elderly residents who are not in touch with family members regularly, or who live alone. There is no cost for subscribers or their family members.

The program is available to those who request the service. The department enters subscriber names, numbers and call times in the system, which enabled a automatic call to each subscriber at a pre-determined time.

For information or to register for the program, contact Chaplain Hunt at 910-608-2193 or via email at [email protected]

“When the software hears a voice response on the phone, it delivers a short pre-recorded message indicating that we are calling to check on them and to ensure that they are OK,” Sheriff Wilkins said in a statement. “The subscriber will be prompted to push an alternating number on the keypad of the phone provided during the call to make sure that they are OK and coherent and not in need of assistance.”

If a subscriber fails to answer after a preset number of call attempts, Hunt will accompany a deputy dispatched by the Robeson County 911 Communications Center to check on the subscriber.

“This system has already proven to be a great benefit to citizens in surrounding counties and I only see it being another tool in protecting our residents,” Wilkins said. “The ARE YOU OK Program was purchased by the Sheriff’s Office utilizing state forfeiture tax money at no cost to the citizens of Robeson County.”

A printout containing emergency information provided by the subscriber is generated in the event of an emergency, and that information can be provided to the responding officer and emergency personnel. The information contains a doctor’s name and phone number, emergency contact name and phone number, next of kin, and brief medical history.

Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker’s decision to discontinue a similar program, called Citizens Well-Check, on July 1 sparked outrage from concerned senior citizens in that county. WRAL reports that 100 seniors were enrolled in the program, which also had a waiting list of people wishing to join the program.


Jessica Horne

Staff writer

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]