Alhambra’s elderly and disabled keep their center — for now

The announcement was made in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese to scores of seniors and severely disabled adults terrified about how they would soon spend their days. The outcome was confusing: a court settlement meant their Adult Day Health Center on Valley Blvd where they spent much of their days could remain — but the reprieve may only last until March. 

M & T is one of roughly 300 California adult day health care centers, most of which are in Los Angeles County, whose future remains in jeopardy. Last Thursday’s court settlement determined determined that Adult Day Health Care Centers, a Medi-Cal benefit which provides care for seniors and the disabled, would disappear in March. A new similar program would replace it, but its benefits would be primarily for those with complex medical conditions and up to half of the 35,000 participants in these programs might not qualify for it.

Administrators at the Alhambra center believe even less than half of its participants would. “I think after March most of the people will not be able to come to this kind of center because the qualifications, the requirements for the new program will be much stricter than what we have right now,” an administrator at the center, Raymond Chu, said. “My own estimate is that we maybe have 20% at the most. How can you survive on 20%?”

Easy to miss in an area of strip-mall Chinese restaurants, M & T has provided a daily refuge for roughly 100 elderly and severely disabled men and women for the past 11 years. The center offers basic health care and, through classes and activities, a version of group therapy where participants socialize with others who share their experiences, as well as their ailments and fears.

If it closes, the center calculates that 25 staff members would lose their jobs, 200 participants would be stuck at home, and nearly as many families would face taking care of ailing loved ones themselves.

But for now the mood is upbeat at M & T. “We are going to enjoy the extension right now,” Chu said, “and think about in the beginning of the new year about what is going to happen, what we are going to do.”

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