Mary Sanchez: I Only Have Two Hands

Mary Sanchez, 73, is her husband's primary caregiver. Her husband, Armando Sanchez, suffered a stroke 11 years ago and was diagnosed with dementia two years after that. She tries to keep him healthy.

"Mind is very strong," she said. "If you tell yourself you can walk, you walk. And little by little he's walking with a cane and I'm behind him with a strap because I don't want him to fall. He's very heavy."

Armando, 75, attends the S. Mark Taper Foundation Adult Day Health Care Center five days a week. It gives him care and community and gives Mary Sanchez a little break.

"I know it's helped me 100 percent," she said. If the Medi-Cal ADHC program is eliminated, Mary Sanchez said she would volunteer at the center to keep her husband there. But, she said, "I hope it doesn't come to that."

The state’s elimination of the Medi-Cal ADHC benefit – slated for Dec. 1 – could endanger 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 will be left home alone and at high risk of landing in emergency rooms and nursing homes.

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 38,000 enrollees statewide.

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Lauren M. Whaley

Freelance journalist Lauren M. Whaley is a photographer, radio producer and print reporter specializing in topics related to mental illness, reproductive health care and health disparities. She is also a childbirth photographer.This year, She is working on a series about how low-income parents access care for perinatal mental illnesses. The project is funded in part by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.She was a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.Her work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) STEM story project. She has contributed radio, video, photography and written stories to KQED Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times and other media outlets. For six years, she worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist. She is a past president of the national organizationJournalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and spent her early 20s leading canoe expeditions for young women, including a solo-led 45-trip in the Canadian Arctic. She is based in Los Angeles.

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