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by Heidi Werntz Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2003 at 2:56 PM

Join us in helping to stop the closure of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. Protest at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, April 29, 9:30am. 500 W. Temple Street, room 381B, Keneth Hahn Hall. (Temple and Grand in Downtown LA).

Rancho Los Amigos is one of the top 10 ranked hospitals in the nation. It provides rehabilitation to patients with Spinal Cord, Brain, or other Trauma injuries, conditions resulting from Stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Severe Athritis, Alzheimer's, and Diabetes, as well as babies with birth defects, Amputees and many other rehabilitative conditions.

All health insurance plans have coverage limits for rehabilitation costs. Once that threshold is reached even those of us fortunate enough to carry an insurance card are left vulnerable. Rancho treats all patients, regardless of ability to pay or citizenship status.

The Board of Supervisors has voted to close the nationally renowned facitily June 30 if more funding is not brought into the health system. This is all happening in a time when our government is spending billions to drop bombs on innocent people. The cost of just a few of those bombs would be enough to keep Rancho open. If Rancho closes and all of its patients were forced into long-term nursing homes, the cost would exceed $132 million per year*. Closing Rancho will reduce county expenses by only $58.6 million per year (*www.canhr.org).

Rancho provides life saving services on a daily basis to over 250 patients on respirators. If Rancho closes, "They'll all be dead within a week," said Julie Helgren, Recreational Therapist.

Not only will closing Rancho kill many of its patients (both present and future), but it will have a ripple effect nationally, or even worldwide, on the training of physical, occupational, and recreational therapists, nurses and doctors who want to specialize in the types of injuries Rancho deals with. Many of Rancho's therapists trained at Rancho, and then decided to stay, some for more than 15 years.

Rancho was the facility that came up with the idea of using a team of specialists to rehabilitate its patients. Each patient at Rancho is individually assesed to find out what their needs are. This could range from things as simple as walking, talking, and feeding oneself, to things like cooking, doing laundry, and taking care of their children. The idea is that each patient can come with goals on what they want to be able to do and they leave having achieved those goals. They are able to go home and/or go back to work and lead productive lives, adding to society, instead of draining it of resources by living in a long-term care nursing homes for the rest of their lives.

Every patient has a team: a social worker, a psychologist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a recreational therapist, doctors and nurses. Rancho even offers driving, vocational, and eduction programs as well as having sports teams like basketball and tennis for people in wheelchairs.

Members of SEIU Local 660, patients, and Rancho staff members have been camped out in a tent city outside of Rancho for over a month. Please feel free to drop by to show your support, to talk to the incredible patients, and to let the community know that you'll do what you can to keep Rancho open. Visit Rancho at 7601 E. Imperial Hwy. (Take 710 South from LA, exit at E. Imperial Hwy, head East. Hospital is on left side at Old River School Road).


For more info please email Heidi at address above or visit Rancho in person.

Information for this article was taken from interviews with therapists, patients, and informational sheets provided by Rancho and SEIU. Visit Rancho at www.rancho.org.
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it happened here lisa Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2003 at 8:59 AM
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