House Calls
Good old fashioned nurse home visits helps senior prolong independence

About this project

Since it opened in a church in 1979, Acacia Adult Day Services in Garden Grove has grown to supply nursing, nutrition and social services to keep poor seniors out of expensive nursing homes and emergency rooms. Acacia is clearly a standout. By diversifying its revenue stream and working with a private health plan that helped Acacia deal with a cut in Medi-Cal reimbursement, Acacia survived a shift to a managed care model that led to the closure of about similar 50 centers around the state. Acacia is one of nine centers around the state, and the only one in Orange County, participating in a pilot program called the Community Based Health Home, which dispatches registered nurses outside the centers. Since the pilot started three years ago, advocates estimate that emergency department visits by an original group of 55 participating elderly people have been reduced by about 23 percent. Hospital readmission rates – when patients are readmitted for the same medical condition – were only about 2 percent for seniors visited by the RNs compared with the national average of 20 percent.


Garden Grove nurses' house calls program helps seniors prolong independence

GARDEN GROVE — Kelly Baik plopped two large plastic Tupperware containers in front of Nelson Tran and Loan Nguyen, who were seated at the kitchen island. Baik opened one, picked out an amber-colored bottle and rattled it.

Profile: Mallory Vega, Executive Director, Acacia Adult Day Services

“With the demographics that we were seeing, we felt that it was a program that would go on forever,” Vega said. “People were starting to say, ‘Hark! The boomers are coming, the boomers are coming.’”

Profile: Natalie Franks, Activities and nutrition supervisor, Acacia Adult Day Services

Franks, 36, is now the Activities and Food Supervisor at the center, and life there is even more meaningful than she imagined. The elderly population she serves now includes her grandfather Manuel Lopez Ornelas Jr., 83, who has been diagnosed with...

Profile: Steve Pearson and Zelda, Caregivers, Acacia Adult Day Services

“She is such a loving dog,” Pearson said. “I tried to give her treats to get her to do something, didn’t work. Gave her a hug and a rub, told her you loved her, and she’d do anything.”


Lauren M. Whaley

Lauren M. Whaley

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 by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.

Whaley 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, I worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist, based in Los Angeles. She is a past president of the national organization Journalism 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. 

Project Partners

© 2019 Center for Health Reporting