Thought I’d pass along this letter written by my Aunt in Stockton, California. Diane Savoy (shown) is a home care worker and, in addition to her current job, has been caring for my Uncle Melvin, who has been struggling with his health for the last few years.
She’s also a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and a staunch supporter of workers issues. She wrote a letter to the editor and is helping to make Californians aware of a proposed law in Sacramento that would give home care providers assistance in caring for the sick and elderly.
Right now, California Governor Jerry Brown is dealing with a $16 billion dollar budget deficit this year and massive cuts in services (including those in the home care industry) is inevitable. Help support California Senate Bill 1503 (SB 1503) and give home care workers the support they need to do their jobs properly.
I hope you take the time and show your support for this important cause.
California’s system for caring for the frail, elderly and the very sick is so broken, it could cost the life of someone you care about.
My companion, Melvin, is one example of the thousands of San Joaquin County seniors and people with disabilities whose lives are put at risk by an uncoordinated, patchwork system of care.
Melvin is blind in one eye, has a rare form of arthritis that flares up in response to infection or bacteria, and a skin condition that can erupt into open, infected wounds. He also suffered a heart attack in 2006. With multiple serious conditions, managing his medication and following the instructions of five different physicians instructions are literally a matter of life and death.
Sadly, Melvin’s health has been put at risk because these providers hardly talk to one another — much less work together — to keep him healthy. A few years ago, a dose of blood thinner caused an incision in his one good eye to bleed out, resulting in total blindness for three months. He eventually recovered, but it’s easy to see how a mixture of medicine can be deadly.
Home care providers like me have been fighting this year, alongside seniors and home care consumers, to fix this broken system and produce better health outcomes. During these difficult budget times, our plan would also put the state on better financial footing and get California ready to keep our growing population of seniors healthy as the baby boom generation ages.
We support legislation, SB 1503 (Steinberg) that would coordinate the care that seniors and people with disabilities receive from Medi-Cal and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). Our plan would shift incentives so health care and home care providers work as a team to keep our loved ones healthy.
Under SB 1503, home care providers will be trained to observe and report signs of serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease and to improve management of these and other chronic conditions. With training in preventative care, caregivers will help those we care for stay out of hospitals and nursing homes, saving billions of dollars in the coming years.
That’s right, our plan saves money by keeping people healthy.
SB 1503 is the smart way to reduce health care costs in California over the long-term. But legislators are now considering taking the budget ax to the compassionate and cost-effective home care program that is the last lifeline for those stuck in the current, broken system.
The current state budget proposal aims to drastically slash support seniors and people with disabilities need to stay healthy and independent. In San Joaquin County, 3250 seniors and people with disabilities who live with another person would be especially hard hit.
The budget targets these vulnerable Californians for extra cuts, wrongly assuming housemates can do “ordinary” tasks like laundry, cleaning and cooking. This flawed proposal fails to understand that many consumers have elderly spouses or roommates who are unable or unwilling to do these tasks. Nor does it recognize that for people like Melvin who are so prone to infection, dirty surfaces or laundry can literally be deadly.
It’s unthinkable that legislators would choose to put vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities at risk when there is a better approach that would save money and improve the health of those we love.
What’s more, making more unnecessary cuts will tear down the foundation of home care so we’ll never be able to strengthen the fragmented system and prevent more situations like what my companion went through.
That’s why I am asking Stockton’s Senator, Lois Wolk, to reject these pound-foolish cuts and support Senate Bill 1503 so we can fix this broken system once and for all.
Diane Chauvin has been a home care provider for her companion for more than 25 years. She lives in Stockton