Dia de Los Muertos Festivities Coming to Olvera Street

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Olvera Street’s Dia de Los Muertos festivities begin next week.


Olvera Street merchants are holding their annual Dia de los Muertos celebrations next week, with events for kids and a solemn procession that dates back to pre-Columbian times.

Children’s workshops will be held this weekend and next week to introduce kids to mask and necklace making traditions from Mexico. The merchants promise a festive pinata-breaking at the end of each session.

Candlelight “novenario” processions are now being held nightly through Nov. 2. These traditional Mexican processions, dating from before the arrival of Spaniards in Mexico, uses colorful pageantry and indigenous rites to evoke memories of deceased loved ones, a statement from the merchants informs.

Free pan de muerto and champurrado will be served – that’s sweet pastry and a traditional hot beverage, for the uninitiated.

Family altars will be set up along Olvera Street, which was the main avenue of Los Angeles in the years immediately following its founding 220 years ago.

Strolling mariachi bands, Aztec dancers, ballet folklorico and other family activities will grace Olvera Street from noon to 6 p.m. next weekend.

And a special art exhibit – “Sacred Memories: Contemporary and Cross Cultural Expressions of the Day of the Dead” – will be on display at the Pico House galleries from today through Nov. 22, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information on the art show can be had at www.lacity.org/elp .

The El Pueblo Historical Monument can be reached at (213) 485-8437.

Community Calendar: October 27, 2011 to November 3, 2011

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Saturday, October 29
All Day—Entry Deadline for LA County Public Library’s 32nd Annual Children’s Bookmark Contest. Bookmark contest entries should reflect this year’s theme, “Picture the Adventure — READ! / ¡Imagínate la Adventura – LEE!” Bookmark Contest entries can be dropped off at the Anthony Quinn Library, located at 3965 Cesar Chavez Ave., LA 90063 or any county library. The winners at each library will be announced in November. Visit your local county library for more details.

9am-3pm—Too Toxic to Trash: Free Countywide Household Hazardous and E-Waste Roundup in Rosemead. LA County residents can safely discard of household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused pharmaceuticals, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides, home-generated sharps waste such as hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and intravenous needles, universal waste including household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, and electronic waste (e-waste) such as TVs and monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos, and cell phones at the Southern California Edison Co: 2244 Walnut Grove Ave. in Rosemead. For more information, call County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or go to www.888CleanLA.com or the Sanitation Districts of LA County at 1 (800) 238-0172 or www.lacsd.org.

10am-2pm–Monterey Park Police will safely collect & destroy unwanted prescription drugs. Residents can bring their potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs to the Police Dept. Lobby inside Monterey Park City Hall: 320 W. Newmark Ave. This service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. For more information, call (626) 307-1236.

10am-2pm—Friends of Cypress Park Library Book Sale. Thousands of used, near-new, and occasionally rare and out-of-print books, as well as some books-on tape, movies (DVD and VHS), and audio tapes and CDs for just 25 cents to $1. The library is located at 1150 Cypress Ave. in Northeast LA. For more information, call (323) 224-0039.

3pm–Arroyo Seco Branch Library special film screening of “What is the Electric Car?” Short Q & A after the film with the film’s producers. Everyone is welcome at this free event. The library is located at 6145 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park 90042. For more information, call 323) 255-0537.

8am-12:30pm–Mayor’s Community Budget Day at Los Angeles City Hall. Neighborhood Council members and community stakeholders can weigh in on the city’s budgeting process.

Tuesday, November 1
6:30pm–Children’s Pajama Storytime at the Chet Holifield Library in Montebello. An evening of cozy songs, stories, and a simple art activity! Bring their favorite stuffed animal. The library is located at 1060 S. Greenwood Ave. Montebello, 90640. For more information, call (323) 728-0421.

Wednesday, November 2
6-8pm–Latino Diabetes Association Candlelight Vigil honors those who have passed away with diabetes. Bring pictures of loved ones and share your experiences. Event will feature Aztec dancers, coffee, and light snacks. Location: La Placita Olvera Church, 535 N. Main St, LA 90012.

10-11am–City Terrace Library’s Weekly Family Place – Parent Toddler Workshop: parents & their babies and toddlers, ages 0-4 years. Includes playtime, art exploration, and a chance to meet other local children and parents. Resource specialists will be available to answer your questions on speech, behavior, and safety of your baby or toddler. The library is located at 4025 E. City Terrace Dr., LA 90063. For more information, call (323) 261-0295.

Upcoming Event
Casino Night Fundraising Event on Nov. 3 to benefit the Eastmont Community Center, sponsored by Pan American Bank. Premium tequilas, beer & wine; heavy Hors d’Oeurvers & dessert; black jack; craps; roulette; entertainment and more. Tickets $50. Location: Pan American Bank, 4631 Whittier Blvd., LA 90022. For reservations or information, go to www.eastmontcommunitycenter.org .

Bell Gardens Police Cards4Kids Poker Classic on Nov.3 to benefit local youth boxing program, at 5pm hosted by the Bicycle Casino. $10,000 Guaranteed!  Cocktail & Buffet Dinner. $100 + $25 Buy-In. Cash & prize raffles, silent auction and more. The Casino is located at 7301 Eastern Ave., Bell Gardens, 90201. For more information, go the TheBike.com.

The Montebello-Commerce YMCA’s 100th Anniversary Celebration & Fundraiser takes place Nov. 7 at the Quiet Cannon: 901 Via San Clemente, Montebello. Entertainment by vocalist Lisa Donahey. Reception and silent auction at 5:30pm; dinner at 7pm. $125 per person. For information, call (323) 887-9622 or visit www.ymcala.org/mc.

Announcements
Tickets now on sale for Montebello Chamber of Commerce’s “Taste of the Town” on Nov. 4, 6-9pm at Bagramian Hall: 900 W. Lincoln Ave., Montebello, 90640. Sample food and wine from more than 20 local restaurants; enjoy live entertainment and auction. Tickets are $35 until Nov. 1/$45 at the door. For more information, call (323) 721-1153.

Tickets now on sale for the Garfield Alumni Foundation’s  49th Annual 5th Quarter Dance and Fundraiser on Friday Nov. 4 — same night as the Annual East LA Classic between  Garfield and Roosevelt High Schools— at the Quiet Cannon: 801  San Clemente in Montebello. Proceeds from the dinner dance benefit the Garfield Alumni Foundation Scholarship Program. Live music, and dance performances; Dj and more. Must be 21 or older. Doors open at 7pm, but you can arrive before, during or after the game. Tickets: $35 in advance/$45 at the door/ $25 after 10:30 pm with ticket stub from the game. Get advance tickets at Sounds of Music, 4956 East Whittier Blvd. LA 90022; ChimMaya Gallery, 5283 East Beverly Blvd. LA .90022. For more information, go to garfieldalumnifoundation.org or call Henry Beltran at (323) 728-9353.

Attend “Comedy Night” fundraiser hosted by the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 11 at El Gallo Café. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the 10th Annual East LA toy giveaway. Comedians:  Rudy Moreno, Omar Covarubias, Edwin San Juan and Julio Gonzalez. $25 per person, includes: Buffet dinner, comedy show, music & dancing following the show. Must be 18 or older. Doors open 5pm. For more information, contact Eddie Torres at (323) 578-0513 or email elacoc@pacbell.net.

To submit an event or announcement to the Community Calendar, e-mail calendar@egpnews.com. All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available for guaranteed calendar placement, for more information, contact: advertise@egpnews.com.

Halloween & Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Events Get Underway

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Wednesday, November 2-11am-9:30pm—Free Día de los Muertos Cultural Festival at the East L.A. Civic Center. See George Newnam’s Casa de Calaveras Art Exhibit; Explore the colorful tradition of Día de los Muertos with Gregorio Luke; Shop a marketplace of handmade arts and more; See the display of family altars in the altar contest. The East L.A. Civic Center is located at 4837 E. Third St. in East Los Angeles. Presented by L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation and L.A. County Public Library, in cooperation with Casa Cultural. For more information, call Susie Hsi at (323) 260-2360 or go to http://parks.lacounty.gov. (Photo by David Moore)

Today, Thursday October 27
5:30-6:30pm—Kids Halloween Stories & Costume Contest at the Chet Holifield Library in Montebello: 1060 S. Greenwood Ave. Montebello, 90640. For more information, call (323) 728-0421.

Friday, October 28
8pm-Midnight—Montebello American Legion Post 272 Halloween Fundraising Dance featuring the Satisfaction band, playing Top 40, R&B, Latin Rock, Disco, Oldies, Cumbias, and Corridos; costume contest; cocktails and ghoulish dancing. Tickets are $15 at the Post located at 616 West Cleveland Ave. Call (323) 721-4878 for more information.

6-11pm—East Yard for Environmental Justice Dia De Los Muertos fundraising party featuring “calaca” face painting, sugar skull decorating, food, dancing, scary stories, raffle and an altar for those who have lost their lives to traffic pollution. To submit photos to the altar, volunteer or to donate for the raffle, call (323) 263-2113 or email info@eycej.org. The party will be at 2317 Atlantic Blvd, City of Commerce, CA 90040.

7-9pm—Self Help Graphics & Art “Revival” Art Exhibit Opening Reception. The Day of the Dead event is themed in celebration of Self Help’s new location. The exhibit is curated by Patssi Valdez. Self Help Graphics is located at 1300 East 1st St, Boyle Heights 90033. For more information call (323) 881-6444.

9pm-1am—“Zombie Prom Class of 2011” Dance at the Historic Linda Vista Hospital. Calling all ZOMBIES for an alcohol-free night of music, dance and costume contest. Linda Vista Hospital is located at 610 S. St Louis St in Boyle Heights. Admission: One can food product per person, to be donated to the L.A Regional Food Bank, fooddrives@lafoodbank.org. For more information call (323) 245-4014.

Saturday, October 29
11am-Midnight—Free Two –day Dia de Los Muertos Event at the Historic Linda Vista Hospital in Boyle Heights. Continues Sunday, 11am to 6pm. Live music, mole contest, community altar and personal altars, food & craft vendors and live music, dance & teatro performances by: Quinto Sol, Calle Placer, Guerrilla Queenz, Danza Azteca, Mariachi, Folklorico. Location: Historic Santa Fe Hospital (Linda Vista) 610 So. St. Louis St., LA 90023. For more information call (323) 501-1008.

12:30-4pm–LA Plaza de Culturas y Artes Dia de los Muertos Family Day: Musica de los Muertos altar by artist Andres Montoya; Music by DJ Jesus Barbosa; Face painting by Lucia Salazar; Art workshops Calavera masks, Memory boxes, Calavera puppets, plus galletas! LA Plaza is located at 501 N Main St., LA 90012. For more information, call (888) 488-8083 or visit http://lapca.org.

11am-6pm—Fiestas Muertos Weekend at Olvera Street, featuring music, dance and entertainment, decorated altars, and more. Continues Sunday, and next weekend, same time and location: El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historic Park: 845 N. Alameda St. LA 90012. For more information, call (213) 485-8372.

Noon-4pm—Heritage Square Museum 8th Annual Halloween & Mourning Tours: Explore the history of Victorian mourning practices and etiquette and more during this two day event that repeats Sunday, same time. $10 Adults/$8 Seniors over 65/ $5 for children 6 to 12 years. Free for Children under 6 and Museum members. Heritage Square is located at 3800 Homer St in Northeast LA off the 110 Fwy. For more information, visit http://heritagesquare.org.

6-9pm—Self Help Graphics & Art Noche de Ofrenda / Community Altar Night led by Master Altar Maker Ofelia Esparza. Participants are invited to contribute their offering to the community alter for display throughout the festivities. Self Help Graphics is located at 1300 East 1st St, Boyle Heights 90033. For more information call (323) 881-6444.

Sunday, October 30
11am-1pm—Halloween Pumpkin Hunt at Kidspace in Pasadena. Three sessions: 11am, Noon, and 1pm. $3 per child, not including museum admission: $10 for nonmembers over age one. Hundreds of Halloween eggs and mini pumpkins are hidden throughout the Kidspace Gardens just waiting to be found! Kidspace is located at 480 N. Arroyo Blvd, in Brookside Park, Pasadena. Space is limited, so register online at www.kidspacemuseum.org.

12:30-4pm—LA Plaza de Culturas y Artes Dia de los Muertos Family Day: Featuring Musica de los Muertos altar by artist Andres Montoya; Music by Pio Pico Middle School; In Lak Ech, xicana song, poetry, and drum group, Aztec dancers by Xipe Totec, Magic by Daniel Perez; Face painting by Lucia Salazar; Art workshops Calavera masks, Nichos by LAartlab, Calavera puppets. LA Plaza is located at 501 N Main St., LA 90012. For more information, call (888) 488-8083 or visit http://lapca.org.

2pm—Halloween Stories Staged at Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library in the Friends Room: Appropriate for the season—and for all ages. Free admission. The library is located at 318 S. Ramona Ave., Monterey Park 91754. For more information, call (626) 307-1333.

3–9pm— Day of the Dead festival, ¡Vivan Los Muertos! at the Autry National Museum. Brings to life ancient Aztec ritual to both remember the dead and mock death itself. Enjoy Mexican food, family activities, vibrant music, dance, elaborate altar displays, and an interactive community altar. Plus, artist Luis Villanueva will showcase his spectacular Day of the Dead crosses atop elaborately decorated altars. Admission: $10 adults/$6 students and seniors 60+/ $4 children 3–12, and free for Autry members, veterans, and children 2 and under. For more information, visit http://theautry.org/.

6-10pm—Bell Gardens’ annual Halloween & Dia De Los Muertos  Celebration at Veterans Park. Family-friendly games, activities, costume contest (kids, adults and pets); live performance by 80’s tribute band The Past Action Heroes. Tons of free candy for young trick-o-treaters, a haunted hayride, face painting, “Dia De Los Muertos” crafts, traditional alters, and extraordinary art displays created by Bell Gardens youth. Veterans Park is located at 6662 Loveland St., Bell Gardens. For more information, call Bell Gardens Recreation & Community Services Department at (562) 806-7650.

Monday, October 31
4-7pm—Heritage Square Museum Safe Haven Trick-or-Treating. Bring your kids for more treats on Halloween inside the safe confines of the museum grounds. Heritage Square is located at 3800 Homer St in Northeast LA off the 110 Fwy. For more information, visit http://heritagesquare.org.

6pm—All City of Commerce parks will hold a children’s Halloween Costume Parade. For the nearest park location, go to http://www.ci.commerce.ca.us/. Look under parks & recreation.

Tuesday, November 1
10am-6pm—Annual Olvera Street Dia de Los Muertos Celebration, featuring colorful, ancient Mexican ceremony in remembrance of departed loved ones. Beautifully decorated altars, exhibits, and entertainment. Continues Wed. Nov. 2, same time and location. Located at El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historic Park: 845 N. Alameda St. LA 90012. For more information, call (213) 485-8372.

Wednesday, November 2
5-11pm—Self Help Graphics & Art 38th Annual Día de Los Muertos Celebration. Traditional Danza, food and craft vendors, face painting, live t-shirt printing, children’s workshops. Festivities begin at 5pm with the traditional procession, face painting and ceremony. The procession will begin at Mariachi Plaza (1st & Boyle) and head south on 1st to SHG&A located at 1300 East 1st St, Boyle Heights 90033, a short walk from the Pico/Aliso Metro Gold Line station. For more information call (323) 881-6444.

To submit an event or announcement to the Community Calendar, e-mail calendar@egpnews.com. All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available for guaranteed calendar placement, for more information, contact: advertise@egpnews.com.

ELAC Awarded $1.2 Mil to Help Hispanics Pursue STEM Careers

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

East Los Angeles College (ELAC) is one of more than 100 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) that will share $107.4 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Latino students.

The majority of the funds, about $100 million in total, will go toward strengthening the selected institutions’ STEM programs by enhancing science, technology and engineering components at the schools with a high number of enrolled Hispanic students.

“The funds will help Hispanic students achieve their educational goals while improving the pool of highly skilled individuals who can strengthen California’s economy and compete globally,” said California Community College Chancellor Scott.

ELAC will receive $1.2 million, which will be used to tutor and mentor students at local high schools in science and math, including physics, calculus and chemistry, and to encourage them to pursue a career in a STEM field, according to Associate Professor of Chemistry Armando Rivera-Figueroa, charged with overseeing the project’s implementation at ELAC.

The program will put a great deal of emphasis on outreach to ELAC students, where current faculty will also serve as advisors to students taking STEM related classes, said Rivera-Figueroa.

“We know that Latinos will play an integral part in helping America reach President Obama’s goal of having the highest college graduation rate in the world by 2020,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These two programs will help to spur academic achievement for Hispanic students, especially within STEM programs, which are key to building a highly skilled workforce that can compete in a global marketplace.”

County Says First 5 LA Audit Raises Red Flags, Supervisors Consider Additional Controls

October 27, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

County supervisors said Tuesday they will consider making First 5 LA – created to use tobacco tax revenues to fund health, safety and education programs for young children – a county agency, after an independent audit raised warning flags.

“Any reading of this audit should shock every single one of us,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

The audit, by consultant Harvey M. Rose Associates, LLC, found that First 5 LA, which controls more than $800 million in funding, was inconsistent in documenting spending and getting approvals from the Board of Commissioners that oversees it.

Antonovich chairs that board and said the commissioners had only approved 28 percent of the agency’s contracts.

The audit also found that First 5 LA was slow to spend funding and was holding a higher percentage of dollars in reserve than First 5 agencies in other counties.

Though, on average, First 5 LA spends about 10 percent more per child than its peers, the agency serves a smaller percentage of its target population and is slower to implement programs, according to the review.

Concerns were also raised about the agency’s bidding process – the audit noted that nearly one-third of spending is on sole-source contracts, most of which were not brought to the board for its review.

“The lack of transparency, the lack of accountability … any one of these things would be a bell and whistle,” Yaroslavsky said. “All together they are a siren.”

First 5 LA Chief Executive Officer Evelyn Martinez said the audit had required hundreds of hours of work by staffers to provide information and records, and the findings were not significant.

“While I welcome any scrutiny of First 5 LA’s financial records, policies and procedures,
administrative expenses and programmatic decisions, I hope that the lack of any significant findings in the special audit reports will confirm that First 5 LA takes its fiduciary responsibilities seriously and has been a responsible caretaker of the public funds entrusted to it,” Martinez said.

She acknowledged that the board had the right to exert greater control but added, “I hope that we continue to maintain our focus on improving the lives of our youngest children.”

Antonovich recommended that county counsel amend an ordinance to establish First 5 LA as a county agency that would retain independent authority over the strategic plan and the local trust fund. First 5 LA is currently an independent legal entity.

The audit was initially prompted by a plan by the state to pull $450 million of funding from First 5 and decrease its annual funding by $50 million.

That specific proposal is no longer on the table.

Supervisor Gloria Molina accused her colleagues of unnecessarily trying to take control of the child advocacy agency.

“This is not a report back, this is clearly a takeover,” Molina said. “I don’t see where $1 was stolen, $1 was misappropriated.”

Molina was the lone dissenter, and Antonovich’s recommendation carried 4-1.

The board asked county counsel to return in 30 days with a report on amending the ordinance governing First 5 LA and how new controls might be effected.

Clock Ticks On State-Funded Adult Day Health Centers, Where Elderly, Disabled Find Comfort and Community

October 26, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Participants finish up a cultural dance before lunch time at Silver Lake Adult Day Health Care Center. Los Angeles County is home to more than 60 percent of the program’s enrollees -- some 22,000 of approximately 35,000 people statewide. (Lauren M. Whaley/CHCF Center for Health Reporting)

One month from now, thousands of poor elderly and disabled Californians will likely lose access to the day centers where they receive meals, therapy and medical care, as well as companionship and a sense of community.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Tiempo se Acaba para los Centros de Salud Financiados por el Estado donde Ancianos Reciben Consuelo y Comunidad

Advocates say the state’s elimination of the Medi-Cal Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) benefit — slated for Dec. 1 — endangers some of California’s frailest individuals, people who suffer from multiple disabilities including dementia, incontinence, paralysis and traumatic brain injury. As the centers are forced to close, advocates say, many of these people will be left home alone, vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and at high risk of landing in emergency rooms and nursing homes.

“I always hate to say it, but people will die,” said Nina Nolcox, CEO of Graceful Senescence, a center in South Los Angeles that serves 120 people, most of them African-American.

Los Angeles County — especially its many ethnic minority communities — will be hit hardest by the closures. According to state data, the county is home to more than 60 percent of the program’s enrollees — some 22,000 of approximately 38,000 people statewide. One quarter have dementia. Forty percent are incontinent. Nearly half have a psychiatric diagnosis. More than 70 percent do not speak English.

The centers provide them with transportation, meals, exercise, medication management, physical and occupational therapy, as well as robust social programs that many participants say have renewed their will to live.

“I do not want ADHC to be closed, because it helps me a lot,” said Bibiana Viernes, a slim, elegant 85-year-old from the Phillipines who has attended the Silver Lake Adult Day Health Center for the past eight years. Viernes is legally blind. She says the Center’s therapists have improved her asthma and relieved her painful joints. She’s made friends and discovered a talent for public speaking.

Bibiana Viernes: Her Center, Her Life from CAhealthReport on Vimeo.

“If ADHC is going to be closed I am forced to stay at home alone,” she said. “I live with my son and his wife but they go to work every day. …I will be depressed. I will become lonely.”

HELP BOX: Resources for Seniors in Los Angeles County

The state decided to eliminate the more than 30-year-old ADHC program this past summer in order to save $169 million — part of the administration’s attempt to close a $26.6 billion budget gap. The program costs $76 per participant per day, half paid by the state, half by the federal government. Norman Williams, a spokesman for the Department of Health Care Services, said there wasn’t much left to cut from — many other optional Medi-Cal benefits, including adult dental care, were eliminated in previous years.

“California is operating under a tremendous budgetary crisis,” he said. “The reductions are painful and they are things that would not normally be done in other situations.”

Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, (D-Davis) chair of the Assembly Aging & Long-Term Care committee, said she and 37 other state legislators signed a letter in August asking the state to push back the elimination deadline until March. She had agreed to vote for the ADHC cuts, she said, with the understanding that $85 million would be allocated in a later bill to create a similar, if smaller, program. She said she was surprised when the governor vetoed the bill this summer.

“I want to be on record now to say, ‘Had I known, I would never have supported this,’” Yamada said. “This is a vote that I will regret for the rest of my career, because I know it’s wrong.”

An advocacy group, Disability Rights California, is suing to halt the closures until the state can assure adequate services to prevent hospitalization or placement in nursing homes. A hearing at a federal district court in Oakland is set for November 8th — just weeks before many centers expect to close.

“We think this is a human disaster and nobody seems to be really listening,” said Lydia Missaelides, Executive Director of the California Association for Adult Day Services. “If there’s no injunction and this doesn’t slow down, we’re going to see hundreds of centers close, almost all in the month of December.”

As the clock ticks, centers are preparing their participants to say goodbye.

The other morning, at the mostly Filipino Silver Lake Adult Day Health Center, Viernes and her friends ate breakfast, participated in a group exercise session, and watched beaming fellow participants perform traditional dances.

Then the center’s program director, Mila Anguluan-Coger, asked them to share a “gift from the heart” for Silver Lake. At first their answers were short. “Hugging each other,” said one. “Pray for Silver Lake,” said another.

But the answers became increasingly emotional.

“In my life, this is the first time I am very happy,” said one participant. “If Silver Lake close, I am sick, I am lonely, I am crying.”

“Here I feel young and strong,” said another. “If it closes, maybe in a week or a month, I’ll be dead. That’s my feeling.”

Advocates worry the closures will force participants’ family members, many of whom depend on centers for a few hours of daily respite, to make impossible choices. Some may have to decide between quitting their jobs, sending loved ones to nursing homes where they will lose their independence– or leaving them home alone.

Coulsander Johnson, 41, became a fulltime caregiver after her 65-year-old mother had a stroke, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and came down with ovarian cancer — in rapid succession. The stress of 24-hour-a-day caregiving took a toll on Johnson — who had to quit her job.

“It was hard,” she said. “Very, very, very hard.”

Enrolling her mother in Graceful Senescence in south Los Angeles three years ago was “a blessing” she said. Her mother relearned to walk and talk. Johnson was able to return to work part-time.

“This is like a safe haven for me and for her,” she said.

Assemblywoman Yamada and other critics expect the proposed budget savings will likely disappear as the state finds itself paying expensive bills for patients landing in nursing homes and emergency rooms.

Nina Nolcox: A Model That Works from CAhealthReport on Vimeo.

A 2010 report by the healthcare consulting firm, The Lewin Group, added those costs to the predicted budget impacts of job loss for family caregivers and thousands of ADHC employees. By eliminating the ADHC benefit, the Lewin report estimated, the state stands to lose $51 million this year.

Norman Williams, of the Department of Health Care Services, said it’s too soon to predict whether ADHC participants will actually land in nursing homes and emergency rooms. The state plans to pay an additional $60 a month per person to public and commercial managed care plans around California to absorb many of the centers’ participants. Other participants may choose to continue with “fee-for-service” Medi-Cal. Williams says participants are currently being assessed to determine the services they need.

Patrick Johnston, president of the California Association of Health Plans, says managed care plans “will do the best they can with the limited funds available” but said it will be a “challenge” to keep some of the most fragile participants out of nursing homes.

“The short answer: services will not be the same,” he said.

As they prepare for the transition, some centers are trying to reinvent themselves to avoid closure – either by taking in more private pay participants, or getting certified to provide other types of services. But 24 of the state’s 311 centers have already closed this year.

Erin Pak, CEO of the Korean Health, Information, Education and Research center, said her organization closed one of its two centers in August, in preparation for the Dec. 1 elimination date. They were able to send most participants to a nearby center. But, once December hits and more centers close, Pak expects most Korean families will try to keep elderly relatives home because of the shame associated with placing them in nursing homes. Her greatest concern is that many seniors will no longer eat – because they are too feeble, don’t have the money, or don’t have the will.

“I worry,” she said, her eyes welling with tears. “I think all of our staff worry a lot about what’s going to happen to them.”

Budget Cuts Force AltaMed to Transition Care Centers – and Patients

October 26, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

AltaMed Adult Day Health Center participants in Lincoln Heights enjoy group exercise classes and one-on-one physical therapy and occupational therapy. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Each week, life-long El Sereno resident Alejandro Alvarez and his 73-year-old mother, Maria Alvarez, look forward to the arrival of a handicapped-equipped shuttle van that will free them for a short while from the confines of their mundane lives. Separate vans drop each of them several days a week at a state-funded Adult Day Health Care center, where they participate in activities with friends, exercise and receive much needed therapies.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Recortes Obligan la Transición de los Centros de Cuidado de Adultos de AltaMed

But funding to such ADHC centers is scheduled to end on Dec. 1, so 48-year-old Alejandro — partially paralyzed after suffering his fifth stroke just three months ago — anticipates he’ll be forced to spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV “feeling lazy and bored.”

His younger sister Frances Burgoin worries that without somewhere to go, her brother’s health will decline and he’ll turn to alcohol to deal with the isolation.

HELP BOX: Resources for Seniors in Los Angeles County

Strokes run in the Alvarez family, she says. Alejandro’s mother has had several, leaving her paralyzed and unable to speak. Burgoin first turned to In-Home Supportive Services workers to help care for her mother, but after receiving as many as six calls a day from workers complaining about her, Burgoin said she had to make a decision.

At the time, she thought about placing her in a nursing home, but “I can’t do that,” she told EGP.

Burgoin quit her job and took over her mother’s, and later her brother’s care. Then she found out about AltaMed’s adult daycare program, and it proved to be a great alternative to a nursing home for her mother and her brother.

Her mother attends AltaMed’s Senior BuenaCare Center in East Los Angeles, a PACE — Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly — site that will not be affected by the budget cuts.

Alejandro receives ongoing physical therapy at AltaMed’s center in Lincoln Heights, but because of his age, Alejandro will not be as lucky as his mother. He cannot afford to pay for the ongoing physical therapy he receives, and Burgoin is having a difficult time finding a therapist who accepts Medi-Cal.

With a little over a month before funding runs out, a number of ADHC programs across the state have already shut down, but AltaMed, the largest ADHC provider in the state, says it will continue to provide services until Nov. 30, the last day of funding.

Several postponements to the cuts have left AltaMed’s adult daycare patients, their families and staff at the centers uncertain about their futures. But while they continue to hope the program will somehow be saved, most are preparing for the worst.

“What I often hear is, ‘Well, what do I do with my mother? I have a job …’” said Claudia Estrada, El Monte AltaMed ADHC program director.

She said several people have told her they feel obligated to quit their jobs and perhaps file for state benefits in order to care for their loved one. Some of the disabled patients, who no longer qualify for services, may have to fend for themselves, increasing their risk of institutionalization and costly visits to the emergency room, Estrada said.

Helping patients avoid institutionalization is the main purpose of the adult day care program, she explained.

AltaMed’s ADHC participants receive physical, occupational and speech therapy. Staff monitor the patient’s health and alert their doctors or families when their health is declining. The centers provide social and therapeutic activities, nutritious snacks and lunch, health education, and transportation to and from the center.

Whether Alejandro Alvarez’s condition will deteriorate to the point of requiring him to enter a skilled nursing care facility is unclear. What is clear, says his sister, is that closing the site is sure to set his recovery back.

Alejandro Alvarez, 48, has suffered five strokes the most was three months ago. He is not eligible for PACE because the program serves only the 55 and over population. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“If he just sits at home for five years, he’s basically risking damaging a lot of the muscles and nerves he could be recovering if he got [physical therapy] services immediately,” said Burgoin, frustrated that state officials have decided to cut the program.

Adult Day Health Care is an optional Medi-Cal benefit that the state decided to eliminate in order to help cut California’s budget deficit. Earlier this year, state health officials sent letters to patients stating they would “sunset” the program, according to Jennifer Spalding, AltaMed vice president of Senior Care Operations.

AltaMed and other adult day care providers lobbied hard to stop the cuts, to no avail.

“We know that the money cut from the programs will in the long run cost the state more, as disabled patients’ conditions worsen and the state is forced to pay for more expensive care in skilled nursing facilities,” AltaMed Chief Executive Officer Castulo de la Rocha told EGP earlier this year.

State cuts to ADHC were made at the beginning of the year, but the program has been extended month after month, Spalding told EGP. “We’ve been advising patients that this may be something that is coming on and that we want to be here to support them and to help them,” she added.

Mary Sanchez: I Only Have Two Hands from CAhealthReport on Vimeo.

AltaMed estimates 350 to 400 of their 1,200 ADHC patients will qualify for the more intensive PACE health care program, according to AltaMed spokesperson Lauren Astor.

To qualify, participants must be 55 years or older, live within the service area and meet the tougher medical criteria for admission to a skilled nursing facility, but still be able to demonstrate they can live safely at home with the support of the program.

The two programs are funded differently. The ADHCs are compensated on a fee-for-services reimbursement formula by the state, while PACE programs are paid by the state and federal government under an actuarially based formula.

Lincoln Heights ADHC Supervisor Brigette Lizarraras said PACE programs are like ADCH sites “on steroids,” because the level of health care provided is significantly higher in the clinical setting where seniors are much lower functioning. She said PACE sites tend to be much larger, accommodating up to 200 patients a day. In contrast, ADHC sites like the one in Lincoln Heights that Alvarez attends, see about 35 to 95 patients a day. Overall, the total number of patients served will be fewer while per patient cost will be higher.

Those who do qualify will now attend sites such as the East Los Angeles Senior BuenaCare program where Maria Alvarez goes. AltaMed has applied to covert three of their four adult daycare sites — Lynwood, Downey and El Monte — to PACE centers, increasing the number of PACE centers it operates to six. All three sites have already gone through a federal Department of Health Care Services Readiness Review, and a final decision is pending from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to Astor.

The Lincoln Heights ADHC site will close and patients eligible for PACE will go to the nearest center in Chinatown. The centers in East LA (Whittier Blvd) and Pico Rivera will also close.

It is unclear how many of the adult day care staff will still have a job when the program ends, but AltaMed has said they are hoping to transfer as many workers as possible to other AltaMed programs.

Facing Hard Choices

Garvanza residents Juana Roselia and Florentine Valdez adore each other. She’s her husband’s primary caretaker, making sure he eats, helping him dress and making sure his diabetes is not affecting his feet. He looks around for her when she’s not by his side, growing anxious until she returns.

Juana, 85, and Florentine, 87, have known each other since childhood and for the last 62 years they have been inseparable. The ADHC program has allowed them to spend every day together, as they struggle to hold on to the lifetime of memories fading away as Florentine’s Alzheimer’s disease advances. The state cuts, however, could separate them.

For 62 years they have been inseparable. But they may soon change. Florentine and Juana Valdez currently attend the AltaMed Adult Day Health Care center in Lincoln Heights. Juana does not qualify for PACE but her husband does. (EGP photo by Tony Chavez)

Florentine qualifies to transfer to a PACE site, but Juana, who struggles with depression and anxiety and has high blood pressure and osteoporosis, does not. She’s become more attached to Florentine, and told EGP she no longer takes his gestures of endearment lightly.

Both currently go to the ADHC center in Lincoln Heights. The center offers Juana the opportunity to keep her medical condition under control and a chance to socialize with other seniors, while still having her husband cared for and close by. Their daughter Ara Vidales worries that her father won’t go to a PACE site without her mother. Juana is afraid to let her husband go without her, since she knows his Alzheimer’s can leave him disoriented and confused.

Juana says Florentine has gone missing more than once, and recalled how frantic she was the day he disappeared from a shopping center he knows well. The police found him very far away, 8 hours later, around midnight, she said. He just left the mall and kept walking…

“He has given us several scares, but luckily we’ve been able to find him again.”

In 2009, 68-year-old Jose Niño suffered a stroke while at work. Like Alvarez, he too is partially paralyzed. “I’m happy and content with the services they are giving me here, but at the same time I feel sad and worried because I don’t know what is going to happen to me if they close this center,” the Highland Park resident told EGP.

While Niño qualifies for the PACE program, he’s torn about going because he would have to replace the doctor who has cared for him since his stroke with an unknown, in-house PACE site doctor, or stay home and forego the therapy and other services that PACE offers. It’s a hard decision to make, he said.

Meanwhile, AltaMed is trying to connect the clients they will no longer serve at the adult daycare facilities to other AltaMed resources, including the Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Managed Care Plans and community resources such as Meals on Wheels.

While those programs can provide some valuable assistance, Lincoln Heights ADHC supervisor Lizarraras says that AltaMed’s staff worry they are not enough to meet the ongoing medical and social needs of the patients they have come to know and care about.

“The majority of people will tell you what they did before they came here,” she said, “which was sit in front of the TV and do nothing but stress about things… and once we close, it’s kind of like being back at square one for them.”

Resources for Seniors in Los Angeles County

October 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The following is a list of local resources offering assistance to Los Angeles area seniors, their families and caregivers. In some cases, they may be able to provide assistance to disabled adults who do not yet qualify for services directed at seniors.

County of Los Angeles Info Line, dial 2-1-1
City of Los Angeles Info Line, dial 3-1-1

LA County Community and Senior Services Programs — Area Agency on Aging
Programs include: Alzheimer’s Day Care, Dispute Resolution, Family Caregiver support, Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy, Home-Delivered Meals, Integrated Care (ICM), Legal Assistance, Long Term Care Ombudsman, Senior Centers, Case Management, and Title V-Senior Employment.

For services, call (800) 510-2020 or visit http://css.lacounty.gov/

Los Angeles Department of Aging (LADOA)

http://aging.lacity.org/

The City of Los Angeles has 16 Multipurpose Centers (MPC) that offer services for seniors, to find the nearest one call (800)-510-2020.

Services at each MPC include: In-Home Assistance and Services, Care Management, Legal Assistance, Nutrition Services, Home Delivered Meals, Transportation, Paratransit, Health Education and Screening Services.

This department also offers Family Caregiver Support Programs, such as information and trainings, assistance to caregivers in gaining access to supportive services, Care Management, Individual counseling, Family Caregiver Support Groups, Respite for caregiver, In-home respite care, and supplemental services.

For more information and assistance, call  (213) 252-4030.

Los Angeles Foundation on Aging (LAFA)

http://givelafa.org/

Programs include: Meals on Wheels; Project CARE (Caring Actions Responding to Elders) and provides items such as food, clothing, personal hygiene products, books, and craft materials to low-income seniors throughout Los Angeles; Elderly Tenant Hoarding Program to “clean-up” and help with on-going mental health care and support; Consumer Education on Financially Literacy.

For information call (213) 252-4081.

WISE & Healthy Aging (nonprofit organization)

WISE & Healthy Aging Information and Referral Services

For more information, please call (310) 394-9871 ext. 464 or email info@wiseandhealthyaging.org

Tiempo se Acaba para los Centros de Salud Financiados por el Estado donde Ancianos Reciben Consuelo y Comunidad

October 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Dentro de un mes, miles de ancianos pobres y californianos discapacitados probablemente perderán el acceso a los centros de cuidado para personas de la tercera edad donde reciben alimentos, terapia y cuidado médico, además de compañía y la sensación de formar parte de una comunidad.

Los defensores de discapacitados dicen que la eliminación del programa Centros de Cuidado de la Salud Diurno para Adultos de Medi-Cal (ADHC)—previsto a desaparecer el próximo 1 de diciembre—pone en peligro a la población más vulnerable de California, gente que sufre de un sinnúmero de enfermedades incluyendo demencia, incontinencia urinaria, parálisis y trauma cerebral.

EGP foto por Lauren M. Whaley/CHCF Center for Health ReportingEGP foto por Lauren M. Whaley/CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Si los centros se ven forzados a cerrar, los defensores subrayan que mucha de esta gente se quedará sola en sus hogares, expuestas al abuso, la negligencia y el alto riesgo de que terminen en las salas de emergencia o en las casas de convalecencia.

“No me gusta decir esto, pero la verdad es que gente morirá”, dijo Nina Nolcox, presidenta de Graceful Senescence, un centro en el sur de Los Ángeles que atiende a 120 personas, en su mayoría de origen afroamericano.

Las comunidades de minorías en el Condado de Los Ángeles serán afectadas tremendamente por la clausura de los centros. De acuerdo con información del estado, el Condado de LA es el hogar a más del 60 por ciento de los beneficiarios del programa—unos 22 mil ancianos de un total de 38 mil en el estado.

Del total de enfermos, una cuarta parte sufre de demencia, un 40 por ciento incontinencia urinaria y cerca del 50 por ciento tiene un diagnóstico psiquiátrico y más del 70 por ciento no hablan inglés.

Los centros programados a cerrar actualmente proveen a las personas discapacitadas con transporte, alimentos, ejercicio, gestión de medicamentos, terapias físicas y así como programas sociales que muchos participantes dicen que les han devuelto la voluntad de vivir.

“Yo no quiero que cierren este programa (ADHC) porque me ayuda mucho”, dijo Bibiana Viernes, una delgada e elegante filipina de 85 años que ha sido atendida en el Silver Lake Adult Health Center por los últimos 8 años.

Viernes es considerada ciega por ley. Ella dijo que la terapia que ha recibido en el centro le alivió el asma y los dolores que tenía en sus coyunturas. También le ayudó a hacer muchas amistades y a descubrir su talento de hablar en público.

“Si el ADHC cierra me voy a ver obligada a quedarme en mi casa sola”, ella dijo. “Yo vivo con mi hijo y su esposa, pero ambos trabajan y me quedaré en la casa sola y me deprimiré”.

El estado de California decidió eliminar el programa ADHC que ha servido a la población discapacitada por más de 30 años para ahorrar $169 millones como parte del objetivo de la administración de reducir el déficit estatal de $26.6 mil millones. El programa tiene un costo de $76 por paciente al día, mitad pagado por el estado y mitad pagado por el gobierno federal.

Lea esta nota EN INGLÉS: Clock Ticks On State-Funded Adult Day Health Centers, Where Elderly, Disabled Find Comfort and Community

Norman Williams, el vocero del Departamento de los Servicios del Cuidado de Salud, dijo que el estado no tenía muchas opciones para reducir costos ya que otros beneficios opcionales de Medi-Cal ya se habían recortado anteriormente, incluyendo los beneficios de cuidado dental.

“El estado de California está operando bajo una crisis de presupuesto tremenda”, indicó Williams. “Sabemos que las reducciones son dolorosas y son cosas que bajo otras circunstancias no se hubieran hecho”.

La Asambleísta Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), presidenta del comité de la tercera edad y cuidado por largo tiempo, dijo que ella y otros 37 legisladores firmaron una carta en agosto pidiendo al estado posponer la eliminación del programa hasta marzo de 2012. Ella estuvo de acuerdo en votar por los recortes al programa ADHC con la promesa que $85 millones serían destinados en una propuesta más tarde para crear un programa similar, posiblemente más pequeño, pero se sorprendió cuando el gobernador vetó la propuesta este verano pasado.

“Quiero que quede grabado que ‘si hubiera sabido lo que iba a suceder nunca hubiera apoyado los recortes de ADHC’”, dijo Yamada. “Este es un voto del que me arrepentiré el resto de mi carrera porque yo sé que está mal lo que está pasando”.

Un grupo defensor, Disability Rights California, está demandando al estado para evitar los cierres hasta que California pueda asegurar servicios adecuados para prevenir la hospitalización o el uso de asilos o casas de cuidado. Una audiencia en la corte federal del distrito de Oakland está programada para el 8 de noviembre, semanas antes del posible cierre de cientos de centros.

“Pensamos que esto es un verdadero desastre humano y nadie parece estar verdaderamente escuchando”, dijo Lydia Missaelides, directora ejecutiva de la Asociación de Servicios para Adultos Diurnos de California. “Si no hay una orden en noviembre, vamos a ver cientos de centros cerrados, casi todos en el mes de diciembre”.

Mientras el reloj avanza, los centros están preparando a sus clientes para decir a dios.

El otro día, en el centro Silver Lake ADHC donde la mayoría de pacientes son de origen filipino, Viernes y sus amigas desayunaron, hicieron ejercicio y disfrutaron de bailables tradicionales realizados por sus compañeros.

Luego la directora del centro Mila Anguluan-Coger, les pidió que compartieran un regalo que viniera del corazón para el centro Silver Lake. Al inicio las respuestas fueron cortas. “Abrazándose una a la otra”, dijo uno. “Recemos por Silver Lake”, dijo otro.

Sin embargo, las respuestas se hicieron cada vez más llenas de emoción.

“En toda mi vida, esta es la primera vez que soy muy feliz”, dijo una participante. “Si Silver Lake cierra. Estaré triste, estaré sola y estaré llorando”.

“Aquí me siento joven y fuerte”, dijo otro. “Si cierra sus puertas, probablemente en una semana o en un mes estaré muerto. Estos son mis sentimientos.”

Los defensores de los centros temen que los cierres forzarán a los familiares de los pacientes—muchos de los cuales dependen de los centros para unas horas de descanso—a tomar decisiones difíciles. Algunos tendrán que decidir entre dejar sus trabajos, mandar a sus seres queridos a casas de convalecencia donde perderán su independencia o dejarlos solos en su hogar.

Coulsander Johnson de 41 años se convirtió en cuidadora de adultos después de que su madre de 65 años sufrió una embolia, le dio Alzheimer y le dio cáncer en los ovarios en rápida sucesión. El estrés que generó el cuidado de 24 horas de su madre la obligó a dejar su trabajo. “Fue muy difícil”, ella dijo. “Muy, pero muy difícil”.

El poder registrar a su madre en Graceful Senescence en el sur de Los Ángeles hace tres años, “fue toda una bendición”, dijo Johnson, quien pudo regresar a trabajar medio tiempo, mientras su madre aprendió a caminar y a hablar otra vez.

“Esto fue como una ayuda caída del cielo, tanto para ella como para mí”, expresó.

La Asambleísta Yamada y otros críticos creen que los ahorros generados por el presupuesto anunciado desaparecerán porque el estado se verá obligado a pagar los costos muy caros por pacientes que terminarán en casas de convalecencia y en salas de emergencia.

Un reporte del 2010 realizado por expertos de seguro de salud, The Lewin Group, calculó los costos al impacto que generará al presupuesto—entre pérdidas de empleos de los familiares y a miles de trabajadores a domicilio a consecuencia de la eliminación del programa ADHC—será $51 millones anualmente.

Williams, del Departamento de Servicios del Cuidado de Salud, dijo que es muy pronto para predecir si los pacientes de ADHC terminarían en casas de convalecencia o salas de emergencia. El estado planea pagar $60 extra al mes por personas adicionales en planes de salud a nivel público y comercial para poder absorber a muchos de los centros participantes. Otros participantes podrían elegir continuar bajo una cuota por el servicio de Medi-Cal. Williams dijo que las personas actualmente están siendo evaluadas para ver qué tipo de servicios necesitan.

Patrick Johnston, presidente de la Asociación de Planes de Salud de California, dijo que los planes de cuidado administrados “harán lo mejor que puedan con los fondos limitados disponibles”, pero enfatizó que será un “reto” poder mantener a algunos de los pacientes más vulnerables fuera de las casas de convalecencia.

“La respuesta corta: los servicios no serán los mismos”, Johnston indicó.

Mientras se preparan para la transición, algunos centros están tratando de reinventarse de nuevo para evitar el cierre. Algunos recibirán pacientes con fondos privados o buscarán la certificación para proveer otros tipos de servicios, hasta el momento 24 de los 311 centros en el estado ya han cerrado este año.

Erin Pak, CEO del Centro de Investigación, Educación e Información de Salud Coreana, dijo que su organización cerró uno de sus dos centros en agosto en preparación para el cierre del 1 de diciembre. Este centro pudo mandar a la mayoría de sus pacientes a un centro cercano.

Pero, una vez que el mes de diciembre llegue, Pak anticipa que la mayoría de las familias coreanas tratarán de mantener a sus ancianos en casa debido a la pena asociada con llevar a sus seres queridos a las casas de convalecencia. Su mayor preocupación es que la mayoría de los ancianos no podrán comer porque estarán demasiado débiles, no tendrán el dinero o simplemente no tendrán las ganas.

“Yo me preocupo”, dijo mientras sus ojos se llenaban de lágrimas. “Creo que todo nuestro personal se preocupa demasiado acerca de lo que va a pasar con ellos”.

Historia traducida por Agustín Duran, reportero de Latinocalifornia.com

Recortes Obligan la Transición de los Centros de Cuidado de Adultos de AltaMed

October 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Cada semana, Alejandro Álvarez, residente de El Sereno por toda su vida, y su madre de 73 años de edad, María Álvarez, esperan con entusiasmo la llegada de un camioncito equipado para personas con discapacidades que los libera por un tiempo del aburrimiento de estar en casa todo el día. Varias veces por semana ambos asisten diferentes centros de Cuidado de la Salud Diurno para Adultos (ADHC) financiado por el Estado, donde participan en actividades con amigos, hacen ejercicio y reciben terapias muy necesitadas.

Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Pero la financiación de los centros ADHC está previsto a terminar el 1 de diciembre, por lo que Alejandro—un hombre de 48 años de edad quién está parcialmente paralizado después de sufrir su quinto derrame cerebral hace sólo tres meses—anticipa que estará obligado a pasar mucho tiempo sentado frente de la televisión “sintiéndose huevón y aburrido.”

Su hermana menor, Frances Burgoin, se preocupa que sin un lugar a donde ir, la salud de su hermano se decaerá y acudirá al alcohol para lidiar con el aislamiento.

Las embolias son comunes en la familia Álvarez, Burgoin dice. María ha tenido varias y la han dejado paralizada e incapaz de hablar. Al principio, Burgoin consiguió la ayuda de trabajadores a domicilio, In-Home Supportive Services, para ayuda con cuidar a su madre, pero después de recibir hasta seis llamadas diarias de trabajadores que se quejan de María, ella tuvo que tomar una decisión, dijo Burgoin.

En esos momentos, ella pensó en si quería continuar trabajando tendría que poner a su madre en una casa de convalecientes, pero “no puedo hacer eso”, ella dijo a EGP.

Así que Burgoin dejo de trabar y se hizo cargo de su madre, y más tarde de su hermano también. Luego encontró el programa diurno para adultos de AltaMed, y resultó ser una gran alternativa para su madre y su hermano.

Alejandro Álvarez hace ejercicios en el centro ADHD de AltaMed en Lincoln Heights. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Su madre asiste el centro Senior BuenaCare de AltaMed en el Este de Los Ángeles, un sitio PACE—Programa de Atención Integral para las Personas Mayores—que no se verá afectado por los recortes presupuestarios.

Alejandro recibe terapia física en el centro ADHC de AltaMed en Lincoln Heights. Pero debido a su edad, Alejandro no tendrá la misma suerte que su madre. Él no puede permitirse el lujo de pagar por la terapia física que necesita y Burgoin no ha podido encontrar un terapeuta que acepte Medi-Cal.

Con más o menos un mes antes de que se agote la financiación, un número de centros ADHC en todo el estado ya han cerrado, pero AltaMed, el mayor proveedor de ADHC en el estado, dice que seguirá proporcionando los servicios hasta el 30 de noviembre, el último día de la financiación.

Ha habido varias propuestas de eliminación del programa y varios aplazamientos a los recortes han dejado a los pacientes de AltaMed, sus familias y el personal de los centros con incertidumbre sobre su futuro. Mientras tienen esperanza que el programa no será eliminado, se están preparando para lo peor.

“Lo que a menudo escucho es: ‘Bueno, ¿qué voy a hacer con mi madre? Yo tengo que trabajar…,’” dijo Claudia Estrada, la directora del programa ADHC de AltaMed en El Monte.

Ella dijo que varias personas le han dicho que se sienten obligados a dejar sus trabajos y tal vez solicitar beneficios del estado con el fin de cuidar a sus seres queridos. Los pacientes con discapacidades, quienes ya no califican para los servicios, enfrentan tener que valer por sí mismos, lo cual aumenta el riesgo de la institucionalización y las costosas visitas a las salas de emergencia, dijo Estrada.

Ayudarles a los pacientes para que puedan seguir viviendo en su hogar es el objetivo principal del programa de cuidado de salud diurno para adultos, ella explicó.

Los participantes de ADHC de AltaMed reciben terapias físicas, ocupacional y del habla. El personal monitorea la salud de los pacientes y alertan a sus médicos y familiares cuando su salud está en deterioro. Los centros proveen actividades sociales y terapéuticas, alimentos, educación sobre la salud, y transporte de ida y regreso del centro.

No esta claro si la condición de Alejandro Álvarez se deteriorará hasta que este obligado a ingresar a una enfermería especializada. Lo que sí está claro, dice su hermana, es que el cierre del sitio retrasará su recuperación.

“Si él se queda en casa por cinco años, básicamente esta corriendo el riesgo de dañar una gran cantidad de músculos y nervios que pudiera estar recuperando,” dijo Burgoin, frustrada que los funcionarios estatales han decidido cortar el programa.

AltaMed y proveedores de otros centros para adultos presionaron mucho para detener los recortes, pero no tuvieron éxito. “Sabemos que el dinero ahorrado por la eliminación de estos programas a largo plazo le costarán más al estado, porque las condiciones de los pacientes discapacitados empeorará y el estado será obligado a pagar por el cuidado más caro en los centros de enfermería especializada,” dijo el CEO de AltaMed Cástulo de la Rocha a EGP a principios de este año.

AltaMed estima que 350 a 400 de sus 1.200 pacientes de ADHC califican para el programa PACE de atención de salud más intensiva, de acuerdo con la portavoz de AltaMed Lauren Astor.

Lea esta nota EN INGLÉS: Budget Cuts Force AltaMed to Transition Care Centers – and Patients

Para calificar para PACE, los participantes deben ser mayores de 55 años, vivir en el área de servicio y cumplir con los criterios médicos más severos para la admisión a una institución de enfermería especializada, pero aún así ser capaz de demostrar que pueden vivir de manera segura en su casa con el apoyo del programa, que reciben fondos estatales y federales.

La Supervisora del ADHD de Lincoln Heights Brigette Lizarraras dijo que los programas PACE son como sitios ADCH “en esteroides”, ya que el nivel de la atención sanitaria es significativamente mayor en un ámbito clínico donde los ancianos están mucho más descapacitados. Ella dijo que los sitios PACE son mucho más grandes, con capacidad para 200 pacientes al día. En contraste, los sitios ADHC como el de Lincoln Heights donde Álvarez asiste, atiende a alrededor de 35 a 95 pacientes al día. En general, el número total de pacientes atendidos serán menos, mientras que el costo por paciente será mayor.

Las personas que califiquen serán transferidos a sitios tales como el programa Senior BuenaCare en el Este de Los Ángeles (ubicado en E. Pomona Blvd.) donde va María Álvarez.

AltaMed ha solicitado convertir tres de sus sitios ADHC—en Lynwood, Downey y El Monte—a centros de PACE, lo que aumentará el número de centros PACE de AltaMed a un total de seis. Los tres sitios propuestos ya fueron sometidos a revisión por el Departamento de Servicios de Salud federal, y la decisión final está pendiente de los Centros para Servicios de Medicare y Medicaid, de acuerdo con Astor.

El sitio ADHC de Lincoln Heights cerrará y los pacientes elegibles para el programa PACE irán al centro más cercano en el Barrio Chino (Chinatown). Los centros ADHC en el Este de Los Ángeles (Whittier Blvd.) y Pico Rivera también se cerrará.

No queda claro cuantos trabajadores del centro para adultos todavía tendrán un puesto de trabajo cuando finalice el programa, pero AltaMed ha dicho que esperan trasladar al mayor número posible de trabajadores a otros programas de AltaMed.

Enfrentando Decisiones Difíciles

Juana Roselia y Florentino Valdez, residentes de Garvanza, se adoran. Ella es el cuidador principal de su marido, asegurándose de que come, ayudándolo a que se vista y asegurarse de que su diabetes no está afectando a sus pies. Él la busca cuando no está a su lado, y se hace ansioso hasta que ella regresa.

Juana, de 85 años de edad, y Florentino, de 87 años, se conocen desde la infancia y durante los últimos 62 años han sido inseparables. Ellos luchan para mantener sus recuerdos de toda la vida que se están desvaneciendo mientras avanza la enfermedad de Alzheimer de Florentino. Los cortes del estado, sin embargo, podría separarlos.

Juana Roselia y Florentino Valdez. Foto de EGP por Tony Chavez

Florentino califica para continuar tratamientos en un sitio PACE, pero Juana, quien lucha con la depresión y la ansiedad y sufre de alta presión arterial y osteoporosis, no califica.

Ambos actualmente van al centro ADHC en Lincoln Heights. El centro le ofrece a Juana la oportunidad de mantener su estado de salud bajo control y la oportunidad de socializar con otras personas mayores, sin dejar de tener a su marido a su lado. Su hija, Ara Vidales, le preocupa que su padre no irá a un sitio PACE sin su madre. Y Juana tiene miedo de dejar a su marido irse sin ella, ya que sabe que su enfermedad de Alzheimer lo puede dejar desorientado y confundido.

Juana dice que Florentino se ha perdido más de una vez, y recuerda qué preocupada estaba el día que él se desapareció de un centro comercial que conocía bien. La policía lo encontró muy lejos, 8 horas más tarde, alrededor de la medianoche, ella dijo. Él se fue caminando del centro comercial y siguió caminando.

“Él nos ha dado varios sustos, pero por suerte lo hemos encontrado de nuevo.”

En el año 2009, José Niño, de 68 años de edad, sufrió un derrame cerebral, mientras que estaba trabajando. Al igual que Álvarez, él también esta parcialmente paralizado. “Estoy feliz y contento con los servicios que me están dando aquí, pero al mismo tiempo me siento triste y preocupado porque no sé qué va a pasar conmigo si se cierra este centro”, el residente de Highland Park dijo a EGP.

José Niño es paciente en el centro ADHC de AltaMed en Lincoln Heights que esta programado a cercar al fin de noviembre. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Mientras Niño sí califica para el programa PACE, está indeciso sobre si quiere asistir porque tendría que reemplazar al médico que lo ha atendido desde su embolia con un doctor desconocido del sitio PACE. La otra opción es quedarse en casa y renunciar la terapia y otros servicios que PACE ofrece. Es una decisión muy difícil de tomar, él dijo.

Mientras tanto, AltaMed está tratando de conectar a los clientes que no califican para el programa PACE con otros recursos de AltaMed, incluyendo el Programa de Múltiples Servicios para Personas Mayores (MSSP), Servicios en el Hogar (IHSS), planes de atención administrada y los recursos comunitarios, como “Meals on Wheels.”

Mientras que los programas pueden proporcionar alguna asistencia valiosa, Lizarraras, la supervisora de Lincoln Heights, dice que el personal de AltaMed se preocupa que no son suficientes para satisfacer las necesidades actuales médicas y sociales de los pacientes que han llegado a conocer y de quienes se preocupan.

“La mayoría de la gente te dirá lo que hacían antes de llegar aquí”, ella dijo, “se sentaban frente de televisión y no hacían nada, menos estresarse de cosas… y una vez que cerremos, es como comenzar de vuelta para ellos.”

Recursos para Personas de la Tercera Edad en Los Ángeles

La línea de Información del Condado de Los Ángeles, llame al 2-1-1

La línea de Información de la Ciudad Los Ángeles, llame al 3-1-1

Programas para la Comunidad y Servicios para Personas Mayores del Condado de Los Ángeles – Agencia del Área Sobre el Envejecimiento

Los programas incluyen: cuidado diurno para pacientes de Alzheimer, resolución de disputas, apoyo para los familiares cuidadores, asesoría de seguro de salud, comidas a domicilio, atención integrada (ICM), asistencia legal, defensor de cuidado a largo plazo, centros para personas mayores, gestión de casos, y el Título V-Empleo de Personas Mayores.

Para más información llame al (800) 510-2020 o visite http://css.lacounty.gov/

Departamento de Envejecimiento de la Ciudad de Los Ángeles (LADOA)

http://aging.lacity.org/

La ciudad de Los Ángeles tiene 16 centros de múltiples usos (MPC) que ofrecen servicios para personas mayores, para ubicar el centro más cercano a usted llame al (800) -510-2020. Servicios en cada MPC incluyen: asistencia y servicios en el hogar, administración de temas de salud, asistencia legal, servicios de nutrición, comidas a domicilio, transporte, educación y detección de Salud.

Este departamento también ofrece programas de apoyo para cuidadores familiares, tales como información y capacitación, asistencia a los cuidadores para acceder los servicios de apoyo, y más.

Para más información y asistencia, llame al (213) 252-4030.

Fundación de Los Ángeles sobre el Envejecimiento (LAFA)

http://givelafa.org/

Los programas incluyen: comidas a domicilio, proyecto para responder a las necesidades de los ancianos y proporcinar artículos tales como alimentos, ropa, productos de higiene personal, libros y materiales de manualidades para mayores de bajos ingresos a través de Los Ángeles; programa para ayudar a limpiar acumulación de articulos y basura, y ayuda con cuidado de salud mental y apoyo; educación al consumidor sobre la alfabetización de finanzas.

Para información llame al (213) 252 – 4081.

WISE & Healthy Aging (organización sin fines de lucro)

WISE & Healthy Aging ofrese información y servicios de referencias.

Para más información, llame al (310) 394-9871 ext. 464 o envíe un correo electrónico info@wiseandhealthyaging.org

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