Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sending a Message to Sacramento

CEO Kelly Focht, M.S.W.

By now, most of us are well aware that the state of California has been hit especially hard by the Great Recession and been forced to severely reduce funding to health and human services, including adult day health care programs and those they serve. Already crippled by cutbacks, these services are again “on the chopping block” as legislative committees begin to look for more ways to close a huge budget deficit.

Glenner Centers’ CEO, Kelly Focht, M.S.W., is one of two advocacy captains in San Diego County working with a statewide organization to convince legislators that an investment in adult health day care services is not only fundamental to saving lives but also to saving the state a great deal of money.

While Glenner Centers are focused on assisting the memory-impaired, it is one of 21 adult day care centers in San Diego and more than 300 throughout California that provide critical services to a much broader group of people with psychiatric, developmental and physical disabilities that require home and community-based services in order to function optimally. Without these services, individuals are at risk of becoming more ill and ending up in emergency rooms and long-term skilled nursing facilities, which average a monthly cost of $4,000 to $6,000 compared to $1,500 to $2,000 for adult day care.

If adult day health care is eliminated as a Medi-Cal benefit, low income, medically at-risk individuals will lose this cost-effective skilled nursing care provided at the adult day health care center. Services include: nursing, mental health services, social work, physical, occupational and speech therapy; medication management; dietary and transportation services. All of these services allow individuals to maintain the life skills required for their own sustainability. Similarly, caregivers who must work to support their families are at risk if their loved one can no longer attend an adult day health care program.

Lawmakers appear to understand the gravity of the issue, as Kelly and other members of the Sacramento-based California Association for Adult Day Services appeal to individual state Senate and Assembly members to not make further cuts in funding.

“I’ve spoken to them on the human costs of further budget reductions,” Kelly said. “We are encouraging our local political leaders to visit our programs so they see firsthand how important these programs are and why they need to stay in place.”

“We need to continue to help those who cannot help themselves,” she added.