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Archive for Saturday, July 16, 2005

Agency helps taxpayers save

Services keep seniors independent

July 16, 2005

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Two months ago, 76-year-old Wilma Jeffrey could barely move.

"I fell," she said, seated in a corner chair in her tiny, seventh-floor apartment in Babcock Place, 1700 Mass.

"The phone rang when I was in the kitchen and when I went to answer it, my feet got tangled up in the tubing there on my oxygen tank and I went down," Jeffrey said.

She broke her nose, wrist and shoulder.

Jeffrey, who is diabetic, spent the next two weeks in Lawrence Memorial Hospital, followed by two weeks at Tonganoxie Nursing Center.

On May 25, she returned to Babcock Place, where she's recovering from her injuries.

"I looked like a raccoon," she said. "I had these two big black eyes."

Jeffrey lives on Social Security. If she had stayed in the nursing home, she would have been eligible for Medicaid, costing taxpayers about $3,500 a month. She said she would have been miserable, too.

"I don't want to go back. No way," she said.

Wilma Jeffrey, 76, a resident of Babcock Place, 1700 Mass., makes her way down the hallway of her apartment building Friday, with help from her granddaughter, Amy Johnson, of Lawrence. Johnson provides regular care for her grandmother through Independence Inc.

Wilma Jeffrey, 76, a resident of Babcock Place, 1700 Mass., makes her way down the hallway of her apartment building Friday, with help from her granddaughter, Amy Johnson, of Lawrence. Johnson provides regular care for her grandmother through Independence Inc.

Jeffrey's return to her apartment was made possible by Rex Ellebracht, a case manager with Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging. He helped Jeffrey sort through the paperwork that comes with applying for services aimed at helping senior citizens maintain their independence.

"My job is to help," Ellebracht said.

He determined Jeffrey was eligible for 25 hours per week of paid attendant care. The attendant costs $8.50 an hour. As Jeffrey improves, the hours will be reduced.

"I couldn't make it without them," Jeffrey said of the attendants. "When I first got here, I couldn't do anything for myself. I could barely move."

Jeffrey's granddaughter, Amy Johnson, is her primary caregiver.

"I'm a PCA - professional care attendant - at Independence Inc.," Johnson said. "I do this for a lot of people."

Rex Ellebracht, a case manager for Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging, checks on Jeffrey to monitor her services.

Rex Ellebracht, a case manager for Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging, checks on Jeffrey to monitor her services.

It's not unusual, Ellebracht said, for family members to serve as paid caregivers.

"A lot of times it's the arrangement that the (service recipient) is most comfortable with," he said. "It also might be what's the most practical, depending on the situation."

Now, Jeffrey's recovery is costing taxpayers about $250 a month instead of the $3,500 per month had she stayed in the nursing home.

Jeffrey's situation is not unique. At a meeting Thursday with elected officials, Jayhawk AAA development and communications manager Annette Thornburgh noted that 175 Douglas County residents receive similar in-home services.

"Keeping seniors in their surroundings of choice is less expensive, and it's the right thing to do," Thornburgh said.

She asked the group - Douglas County commissioners Bob Johnson and Charles Jones, Lawrence Mayor Boog Highberger, State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence - to realize that funding is not keeping pace with the demand for services.

Funding for the state's Senior Care Act - about $6.5 million annually - has been flat for three years.

"I'm afraid there aren't a lot of easy answers," Thornburgh said.

Comments

smitty 8 years, 9 months ago

$250 vs $3,500 is good economically, good for the systems budget and good for the recipient of services.

Now compare this situation to that of sexual predator Hendrick's care expenses. He could be housed in a care facility for $3,500 a month vs the $278,00 for a year and half or $68,000. The care facility offers a savings of $215,000 over that same span of time.

Why do we do the most economically feasible action for an elderly wpman but will spend hundreds of thousands on a low life sexual predator?

There would be much more funding for the deserving if Hendricks budget were not allowed and he was kept in a state mental institution. I hate the competiton for monies but in this case it's a no brainer. After all, medicaid is another word for SRS funded. Do you suppose the politicians can figure it out too?

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