Local senior services threatened under COVID-induced budget cuts

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only threatened the lives of local seniors, but the stability of their services as well.
No sooner had the California State Legislature staved off proposed budget cuts to community-based adult services (CBAS), the nonprofit Avenidas announced June 24 it was halting operations of several of its seniors programs, laying off seven of its 53 employees.
Avenidas operates two senior centers, one in Mountain View and the other in Palo Alto. The agency is scaling back operations at the Avenidas Rose Kleiner Center in Mountain View, in addition to its Door to Door and Senior Planet @Avenidas programs, reflecting what officials called “a new virtual service delivery model.”
“Due to COVID-19, our operations drastically changed, and this new reality is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, causing us to take on these belt-tightening changes,” said Amy Andonian, Avenidas CEO and president. “Although our buildings have been and will remain closed for an unknown amount of time, we are delivering as many existing and new services and programs as we possibly can. I have been impressed at how well we were able to retool to meet the new needs of our vulnerable senior population.”
Avenidas staff members pivoted to continue to work remotely weekdays to help seniors, their families and caregivers navigate the public health crisis. Staff have been delivering groceries, medicine and other supplies to those in need; taking hotline calls and responding to requests; making daily and weekly check-in calls; transitioning to Zoom classes; coordinating with volunteers to help seniors; and counseling seniors.
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Fighting to keep CBAS

Meanwhile, the fight continues to retain funding for senior adult day care. Gov. Gavin Newsom last month proposed elimination of that funding in the wake of a $54 billion budget deficit. Legislators thus far have rejected that proposal. State funding accounts for 60% of the annual $1 million budget at Rose Kleiner. Absent the funding, the center is faced with closing its doors.
“As budget negotiations continue at the State Capitol, we would love the public to contact Governor Newsom and urge him to retain CBAS as an essential Medi-Cal service,” said Avenidas spokeswoman Kari Martell. “So many seniors from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto will be at risk for placement in nursing homes if our center gets eliminated. With nursing homes the source of nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in California, the proposal to eliminate CBAS is foolhardy.”
Budgeted at $95.2 million with matching federal funds, CBAS keeps seniors living independently in their home at a cost of $76 per day. By contrast, nursing home care is $380 per day.
The State Legislature is scheduled to finalize the budget for the upcoming year June 30.
“Our center not only provides a safe space for our participants, we provide peer socialization, a hot meal, activities and health care including nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and, as needed, dietitian and speech therapy support,” said Kristina Lugo, program director for the Avenidas Rose Kleiner Center. “We provide caregiver support to families so that they have tools to maintain their loved ones at home, not in an institution.”
The center, located at 270 Escuela Ave., serves approximately 100 clients. Lugo said adult day care offers seniors quality of life while easing the burden of care on family members, many of whom need to work during the day.

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