VADS to run out of funds by mid-October

Adult Day Care center in desperate need of financial help

The Recorder

PORTERVILLE, CA – The COVID-19 pandemic could force the closure of Porterville’s Valley Adult Day Services and time is running out.

There are 690,000 men and women over the age of 65 with Alzheimer’s and dementia in California. Those who provide them service sat due to the pandemic’s shelter in-place orders, there have been physical and mental setbacks in this vulnerable population.

Those who provide service add they can’t wear face coverings, they don’t understand social distancing and if they tried to take their temperature, they wouldn’t be able to do it.

They add COVID has been financially devastating and is threatening the existence of adult day care centers that help those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and make it possible for caregivers, some of whom are essential workers, to go to work. They are also allowed to do other tasks such as picking up prescriptions or simply taking a break.

“This virus has all but taken everything out from under our feet,” said Kayla Muller, Executive Director of Valley Adult Day Services (VADS) located in Porterville.

Valley Adult Day Services, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit in existence for 30 years, is the only adult day care center in Tulare County licensed by the State. The center offers participants daily activities including exercise, writing, reading and math. But the state’s strict requirements for operating the center amid the pandemic, has cut the center’s number of participants from 30 to just 10.

VADS Board of Director Chairman Richard Eckhoff said that’s hardly enough to make ends meet. “We will run out of funds by the middle of October,” said Eckhoff. Eckhoff added the center is facing a deficit of $18,000 to $20,000 a month.

Advocates stated prior to the pandemic there was already a concern over the lack of adult day services in Tulare County. Kaweah Delta Health Care District, which operates the largest acute care hospital from Bakersfield to Fresno and offers a wide variety of healthcare services in the Central Valley, along with Quail Park, which offers retirement communities and memory care in Visalia, were actively working with VADS to provide another center in Visalia.

“Adult day care services are of significant value to our community. These centers can be extremely beneficial to participants, and can often help ensure that someone can remain living at home rather than move into a residential center,” said Marc Mertz, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Kaweah Delta “They are also very helpful to family members and caregivers, who need a break from around-the-clock care and supervision.”

Advocates also state the COVID-19 pandemic has caused irreplaceable damage to Alzheimer’s patients and VAD participants. It should be noted VADS doesn’t just serve he elderly. Services are provided for anyone 18 and older.

Due to the pandemic, VADS had to close temporarily for three months. During that time participants such as Rebecca Carley had no place to go while their caregivers were at work and tending to other family tasks.

Michael Carley, Rebecca’s husband tried for weeks to manage her care while on videoconferencing calls for work and overseeing his son’s videoconferencing calls for school. She was also having trouble with balance. “It was less safe for her to be at home,” said Michael.

So, Michael, made one of the hardest decisions of his life – placing his wife in a full-time skilled nursing facility.

On May 13, Michael and his 12-year-old son drove Rebecca to the facility, with a box of her belongings and one-page introduction for the staff, a couple of family photos, and a note saying, “Rebecca loves art and beautiful things, pugs, scuba diving, Shrek, Aquaman, and Star Trek.”

On June 27, she died as a result of COVID-19.

“It’s amazing and heartbreaking,” said Michael, who after May 13 never saw his wife again in person. Rebecca tested positive for COVID on June 22, her 51st birthday.

She had a hard time adjusting, she wasn’t eating well and had lost one-third of her body weight, Michael said.

“There wasn’t COVID in the facility when she was placed, but once it got in, it was hard to prevent it from spreading,” he said.

Michael says he will remember Rebecca, not as the person she was in her final days, but as the wife, mother, musician, artist and avid scuba diver she was before COVID-19 took a hold of her. He does not blame the pandemic for her death, but chooses to focus on the value of VADS.

“They gave me another year and a half with my wife at home. Without their service I would have been faced with a decision to either quit my job or have her placed in a residential center in 2018,” he said.

Caregivers such as Michael pay less than $5 an hour for their loved one to be in day care for up to 10 hours. The fate of VADS depends on financial support, Muller said.

Muller said community support would ensure that an adult day care center remains a choice for caregivers in Tulare County.

“We work really hard to make sure that when someone comes in, we’re going to make them safe,” Muller said. “There is a financial component to this and unfortunately, we’re looking at devastating times when it comes to our client and the caregiver. We’ve been an outlet for them and we don’t know how much longer that can continue.”

Jennifer Corum, a Visalia resident and a newly appointed Valley Adult Day Services Board Member, said she can’t imagine what life would be without VADS. Her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015 at the age of 65.

“My mom was really in a desperate place when my dad was diagnosed and the day program was a light in a dark place,” she said “We were terrified and desperate. We knew we need care for him, but we didn’t know how to do that in an affordable way. This center bridges the gap for so many who are not able to put their loved one in a facility.”

Bob Patel, one of VADS biggest supporters, has organized a fundraiser at GoFundMe. The page has set a goal of raising $50,000. Those who wish to donate can go to http://www.gofundme.com/f/valley-adult-day-services

Valley Adult Day Services is located at 227 E. Oak Ave. For more information on VADS, please visit http://www.ValleyAdultDayServices.org or call 559-783-9815