Nina Nolcox: A Model That Works

Nina Nolcox opened the doors to Graceful Senescence Adult Day Health Care Center in 2006 in South Los Angeles. The CEO used to work as a registered nurse in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals. "I believe completely in this model," she said of the Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) program.

If the program is eliminated, Nolcox said seniors in her community will die.

"One of two things will occur, either they'll be placed [in a nursing home] or they'll die," Nolcox said. "If you leave them at home and they don't have the supervision, they don't have the care coordination, they don't have the kind of things that we offer to keep them going. ... An incident will occur or they will fall, or they will end up in an accute exacerbation experience that they won't make it out of."

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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