Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Responsibility to Residents

***Story Published in Mountain Echo, February 5, 2013

“I lived during the Great Depression and you are seeing things nowadays just as bad.” Eva Reed is an 83 year old resident who has been in a skilled nursing facility for almost five years. She was born in 1929 in the state of Oklahoma. Eva worked as a farm laborer and was a volunteer Indian Chief for the United Lumbee Indian Tribe for 28 years. Eva raised three children and has three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. “It was hard going through the Great Depression. My mother worked for 50 cents an hour doing laundry during World War II, while I went to school and took in laundry.” Eva recalled. “It was very important to work hard and be true to your word.”

Eva has seen how things change, from the way we generate electricity to the way we take care of each other. She has found her home at Mayers Memorial Skilled Nursing Facility and is very happy being where she is. “The staff and other residents here are wonderful; I am close to my family and get visits several times a week.” Eva put in years of hard work and was committed to taking care of those around her. Now in her later years, she is in a place where she can be well taken care of…for now.

Janet Wolter was born in 1927 and will be 86 years old on February 13th. She was a school secretary for 20 years and worked alongside her husband as a cattle rancher. Janet knows what it means to work hard. She raised four children and has ten grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Janet, too, lived through the Great Depression and WWII. “That time shaped our lives. We learned a lot from those times. Something good always came of the tough times we went through.”

Janet feels that things have changed over the years. “We need to teach our children the value of hard work. I always felt that kids that grew up working hard (on ranches) learned a lot about responsibility.” Responsibility, something the state is neglecting when it comes to our elder community.

Janet and her husband moved into the Mayers Skilled Nursing facility almost two years ago. Her husband, Jim, passed away last February. “We had to depend on Medi-Cal to help pay our bills in the facility. We really enjoyed being here together.” Janet said the staff goes above and beyond to take care of her and the other residents are like her family. “I am impressed with all of the hard work that the staff does. They have to be very special people to do their jobs, from the housekeepers to the CEO.”

These are just two of the lives that could be affected by California’s AB97. There’s the artist that has roots that go deep into the community. I have several pieces of her work. There’s the retired teacher that taught students math with the fun game of Krypto. My husband was one of them. There’s the Pearl Harbor Survivor that was interviewed recently for the local news.  There’s the mechanic, the legal secretary, the waitress, the preacher, the physical therapy aide, the postmaster, the rancher and the structural engineer. Their stories fill the walls of their rooms. Looking at pictures and into their eyes you see a lifetime of history and a person who has seen the successes and challenges of our world.

They all have a story to tell and we could all learn something from them. Their experiences leave ours with something to be desired.

Their average age is 81, but there are forty-six of them over the age of 85, including one proud 100 year old. Most of them were born in the 1920’s and 30’s. They are a generation that knew what it was like to have nothing and work for everything. They are a generation that has worked diligently their entire life. They have old-fashioned and well-grounded morals and standards. They know what it means to make a deal with a handshake. They know what it means to keep their word and take care of those around them.

They went through the Great Depression and World War II. They have lived to see the changes in culture, society and technology…not all good changes. Writing letters and sitting down for a cup of coffee is how they communicate; not emails, texting and through the internet. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, the government has forgotten their responsibility in taking care of these individuals on which our foundation is built.

This group includes ten veterans. Eight men and two women that served our country to give us the freedoms we have today.

These precious people have lived their lives and have contributed to society and have been a vital part to their respective communities. It is their time in life to be taken care of and they have found that care in a rural healthcare facility’s skilled nursing home. These are the 76 residents in the Mayers Memorial Hospital facilities in Burney and Fall River Mills. These residents and their homes are being threatened by pending cuts for Medi-Cal to healthcare facilities as determined by AB97.

The harsh reality of the state’s effort to balance a budget by saving quarters to spend dollars is going to have the largest effect on the seniors that established a home in this small healthcare setting. These residents have spent an average of 3 years in the facility. One resident has spent over 15 years in her long term care home.

The loggers, truck drivers, waitresses, bookkeepers, millworkers and many other hardworking individuals that have contributed more than their fair share to society will be the ones to pay the price because the state cannot pay their fair share.

It is important to recognize that these 76 people are very simply, at home. They have their own space, own belongings, personal decorations and pictures. They have their own schedule, their favorite food, staff member and activity. They play bingo, go to church service, get their hair done and sing songs. They watch television, read books and crochet. They are in their comfort zone. Eva says, “We do a lot to keep us occupied here. This is a nice place to be.”

They even fall in love. Anita Kuhns and Elbert Glover, both 89 years young, have found that it is never too late for love. They will be married on February 9th.

What part of this home does the government not understand? Why would it be okay to displace one of the hardest working generations? Why should this group give of themselves for a lifetime and not have society give back. They were there for us; we need to be there for them.

Eva Reed says, “If the hospital nursing home were to close, it would have great impact on our community, people would have to move away to find work and it would have a great impact on the businesses here. It would hurt our already hurting schools that took a hard hit after logging mills closed a while back. I would be forced to move hundreds of miles away and it would cost the state more in the long run to take care of me elsewhere.”

Janet feels much the same way. “There is no other place I could go that would care for me and give me the support I have here. All of my treasures are close by, the cattle ranch we worked, my kids and grandkids…I wouldn’t want to move away from them.”

To make this issue even bigger, the 76 residents at Mayers Skilled Nursing Facility are not the only ones that will be affected. There are many other facilities in the state of California facing the same fate. It is a disservice to even imagine that one of the hardest working generations left, will be put out in the cold because our government cannot get their priorities straight.
For more information see www.mayersmemorial.com
Video at

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mayers Memorial Anti AB-97

Responsibility to Residents

Save Long Term Care

To Sign the petition, click link below.
http bl://www.change.org/petitions/california-department-of-health-services-and-california-state-government-reverse-ab97-no-cuts-for-medi-cal-services-provided-by-dp-snfs

If approved state cuts are implemented as planned, Mayers Memorial Hospital District may be forced to close Long Term Care facilities. Long Term Care cost per day for FY 2011-12 was $255 with a break even reimbursement rate of $255. The cuts would result in a 22% decrease in reimbursement and a new daily reimbursment rate of $201. The economic impact of these cuts equals $1.6 million annually. Reduced reimbursement would have a devastating effect on our long term care facilities and local hospital. With reimbursement payments not covering costs, the hospital would be faced with closing the nursing home facilities. The result would be displacement of many long term care residents with the nearest facilities being over 75 miles away.
The facilities in Redding would only accommodate less than 20% of the current residents. Others would have to relocate to Sacramento or beyond, meaning an 8-10 hour round trip for family members. Additionally, many of the other facilities are private and only accept a certain percentage of Medi-Cal patients. Ninety-seven percent of the residents at the Fall River and Burney Long Term Care facilities are Medi-Cal patients. 
It is documented that when a move like this occurs, a patients’ life expectancy drops by 30%. Numbers cannot measure the loneliness and sadness a patient endures or the difficulties imposed on a family. Many patients experience stress that can cause an increase in dementia, anxiety, weight loss and depression with a high percentage that die within six months of relocating. If beds in the Mayers’ facilities are terminated as a result of the cuts, patients and their families will be irrepairably affected.
In addition, the closure of any part of the local facility would have a negative effect on our rural community. The layoff of over 100 employees collecting over $3.7 million in payroll and benefits would economically impact our community, local residents and businesses.

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