Calif. center, ethnic outlets partner to examine elderly day care’s demise

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting partnered with no fewer than nine different organizations to produce a sprawling story package examining the impact of the looming closure of many of California’s adult day health care centers. (Since the project launched, California reached a legal settlement that will allow adults most at risk of institutionalization to continue to receive services previously provided by adult day health centers. Existing centers will be able to provide services through the end of Feb. 2012. See this write-up in California Healthline.)

Jocelyn Wiener’s centerpiece stands alone, but the package really gains steam when you take the time to consider its full breadth and depth.

For those new to the issue, here’s Wiener’s primer and a hint as to why the package grew out of a collaboration with a kaleidoscope of ethnic media organizations.

Los Angeles County – especially its many ethnic minority communities –will be hit hardest by the closures. According to state data, the county is home to more than 60 percent of the program’s 38,000 enrollees statewide. One quarter have dementia. Forty percent are incontinent. Nearly half have a psychiatric diagnosis. More than 70 percent do not speak English.

The centers provide them with transportation, meals, exercise, medication management, physical and occupational therapy, as well as robust social programs that many participants say have renewed their will to live.

Health journalists will find Richard Kipling’s “how we did it” piece to be a natural entry point. Kipling unspools the narrative of how a brief suggestion became an anything-but-brief compendium of multilingual, multicultural, multigenerational reporting. Kipling’s blog also serves as a useful roadmap to the project.

Watch the AHCJ website for more about how this project was reported.

If the video doesn’t appear on your page, please click through to :Bibiana Viernes: Her Center, Her Life” from CAhealthReport on Vimeo.

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