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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

by lisa Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2003 at 8:59 AM

Up here, in the Great White North, the powers that be recently closed down the only head injury rehabilitation hospital on Vancouver Island. There was a group of concerned individuals who maintained a permanent presence outside the facility to ensure that the patients were not moved. In the end, they were moved to Vancouver to their local Psychiatric institute. The patients were told that if they did not move voluntarily, they would be charged under the Mental Health Act, and moved that way. The residents are now in a hospital that has no way of treating their medical conditions. Head injuries and Mental illness are not related. In the end the powers that be won, but the community did rally for the patients. I hope that you can win. It is becoming more evident that people with disabilities are considered disposable and not worth the funds to ensure that they are safe, healthy and are looked after. Up here in British Columbia, the only people the neo-liberals are going to allow to stay in the province are: white, males, under the age of 50, with no known health issues, educated who come from trust funds.
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one victory

by Chantel g. Thursday, May. 08, 2003 at 3:02 PM


Victory For Rancho Los Amigos Rehab Center

Judge Prevents Service Reduction As County Moves Toward Facility Closure

Apr 30, 2003 7:17 am US/Pacific
LOS ANGELES (AP) A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the county from reducing services as it moves to close Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey.

U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper's ruling Tuesday was a victory for a coalition of Rancho patients who sued to prevent the hospital's scheduled June 30 closure.

The temporary restraining order remains in place while she considers a more permanent injunction to prevent Rancho's closure until the county can prove comparable services will be made available. Another hearing will be held May 6.

"It appears that, unless a restraining order is issued immediately, plaintiffs and a class of similarly situated Medi-Cal recipients will suffer irreparable injury," Cooper wrote in her decision.

County officials failed to prove to the court that comparable services will be made available to disabled Medi-Cal patients after Rancho's closure.

"After due consideration, the court has also concluded that there is a very strong likelihood that the plaintiffs will prevail at trial on the merits of the claims in their complaint," the judge wrote.

The ruling also states that a lawsuit by three Rancho patients can move forward as a class-action, representing all present and future Rancho patients on Medi-Cal.

The restraining order prevents the county from "terminating, reducing or making any further reductions in any inpatient or outpatient medical service at Rancho which is covered by a Medi-Cal program; or giving notice to any persons of any termination, reduction or further reduction in inpatient and outpatient service at Rancho."

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in January to close Rancho in an effort to offset a projected $709 million budget deficit by 2007. Operating Rancho costs the county roughly $59 million annually.


Judge Stops County From Closing Rehab Center
Spokesman: County Plans To Appeal Ruling

UPDATED: 7:28 a.m. PDT May 7, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- A federal judge has decided that a Los Angeles County rehab center will not be closed -- at least not yet. U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ordered a temporary injunction against closing the 150-bed Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey Tuesday.

The order comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the Western Law Center for Disability Rights and other advocacy groups for the disabled.

Judge Cooper found that "many of the needs of these patients and hundreds like them, could not and would not be met" if the center was closed.

County officials had planned to close the hospital on June 30 to save more than $58 million in the budget for health services.

Health Service spokesman John Wallace said the county plans to appeal the ruling.

Hundreds of patients and employees of Los Angeles County hospitals, including Rancho Los Amigos, protested last week.

County Supervisors discussed letting voters decide if they want more taxes to cover the budget shortage for area hospitals.

Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke suggested an increased alcohol tax for the county to cover millions lost in budget cuts at a supervisors meeting Tuesday.

"Our deficit is not our making," Supervisor Gloria Molina said.

"We're not asking the state to deplete it's treasury ... We're asking the state to give the people of this county the right to decide for itself whether it wants to tax a vodka martini," supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.

The three supervisors believe that an alcohol tax can raise millions to save facilities like Rancho Los Amigos.
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