Esther Darling, 75, of Woodland first came to the Yolo Adult Day Health Center after suffering a stroke 13 years ago. Since then, she's moved from a wheelchair to a walker and credits the center's staff for allowing her to manage multiple medical conditions and still live on her own. She was the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that helped preserve Medi-Cal reimbursement for adult day health care. Courtesy photo

Local News

The blues help Yolo Adult Day Health Center stay out of the red

By From page A1 | October 26, 2012

Check it out

What: 11th annual Blues Harvest, featuring the Kyle Rowland Band, Hardwater and the Flatland String Band, plus hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer, silent auction

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2

Where: Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland

Tickets: $45, available at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St., Davis; Watermelon Music, 527 Main St., Woodland; Yolo Adult Day Health Center, 20 N. Cottonwood St., Woodland

Info: 530-666-8828

Yolo County’s home-grown blues celebration is back with the 2012 Blues Harvest, with a crop that includes the red-hot blues of the Kyle Rowland Band, Hardwater and the Flatland String Band.

Scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2, at the Heidrick Ag History Center, this year’s festival features a buffet dinner, an auction for a Kauai vacation, a New York City getaway, original works of art and unusual gifts, and a raffle for an iPad, iPod nano and a Kindle Fire.

But more than the music, the organizers of the event — Friends of Adult Day Health Care — stress the reason the event is held in the first place: Proceeds directly benefit Yolo Adult Day Health Center clients.

Since its start in 2001, the festival has become increasingly important to the Yolo Adult Day Health Center because of budget tightening and outright cuts. Funds raised have helped sponsor participant attendance, remodel the center, purchase vans and wheelchair-accessible buses, provide medical equipment and fund special therapeutic programs. Among the beneficiaries is Woodland resident Esther Darling.

At 75, Darling is a survivor. Having endured a stroke that paralyzed her left side, she takes 23 pills a day to combat a long list of ailments that includes diabetes, congestive heart failure, osteoarthritis and peripheral neuropathy.

Darling’s list of chronic medical conditions may sound debilitating, but the New Hampshire native and former factory worker would be living full-time in a long-term care facility if not for the center’s nursing, social work and therapy programs. Working closely with her physician and part-time home aide, Darling is able to live alone in her own apartment.

She considers the center’s staff and fellow program participants her family.

“This is my second home. I love everyone here,” she said. “When I came here I couldn’t walk, and look at me now. The center means everything to me.”

Darling first came to the Yolo Adult Day Health Center — the first built-to-purpose adult day health center in California — 13 years ago after a stroke left her using a wheelchair and unable to manage her own care or simple household tasks. With no family to rely on, a nursing home was being considered until a social worker suggested trying the Yolo Adult Day Health Center first.

The concept of an adult day health center was designed with people like Darling in mind: elderly or disabled adults with a place to live, yet needing regular health care monitoring, social services and /or therapeutic treatment. Since its inception in 1984, the Yolo center has been providing nursing care; psycho-social support; physical, occupational and speech therapy; and socialization to frail elderly and disabled adults, enabling a person to live with a sense of purpose, dignity and independence.

In the 13 years Darling has attended the center, its nursing staff and trained therapists have helped her manage her medications, multiple medical conditions and, literally, get on her feet again. Today, Darling uses only a walker despite her significant left-sided weakness. And equally important, Darling credits the center staffers with instilling the will to do it.

Darling is one of thousands of patients and caregivers the center has helped in the past 28 years. Being one-quarter the cost of a skilled nursing facility, the center saves the taxpayers significant health care costs, a center spokesman said. Regular health monitoring also cuts back on emergency room visits and hospital stays because potential problems are caught early before they develop into a crisis requiring an increased level of care.

In 2011 when the state eliminated Medi-Cal reimbursement for adult day health care, the future of this model of providing care was threatened, and many centers across the state closed. Darling faced the very real possibility of what many would call “premature nursing home placement.” That was enough for her to sign up as lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that challenged the state’s decision to deny ongoing, comprehensive, community-based skilled services to low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

Darling v. Douglas was settled out of court, saving this effective and efficient model of care.

While state reimbursements for adult day health care services have not been eliminated, they have not been increased for more than eight years and today cover only 75 percent of the actual cost of care.

“Community support is more critical than ever, especially as our population ages and the proportion of economically disadvantaged seniors continues to increase,” says Dawn Myers Purkey, program manager.

Which is where Friends of Adult Day Health Care, an all-volunteer, Yolo County-based nonprofit agency, comes in. As organizers of the Blues Harvest, they’re hoping that one way they can keep the center out of the red may just be by bringing in the blues.

Rob Gonzales, a longtime Woodland and Colorado musician who has been part of the Blues Harvest entertainment from the beginning, maintains it’s been as much fun for the musicians as it is for attendees.

“The bands offering support have always been top-notch, a real treat for music fans,” he said. “This year is superb. Great food, auctions and tunes! All for a most deserving cause!”

Doors for this year’s Blues Harvest — at the Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane in Woodland — open at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 with hors d’oeuvres, complimentary wine and beer and a silent auction following.

Tickets are $45 and are available at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in Davis; Watermelon Music, 527 Main St. in Woodland; and the Yolo Adult Day Health Center, 20 N. Cottonwood St. in Woodland. For more information, call 530-666-8828.

Special to The Enterprise

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