Social services still struggle to hold on

September 17, 2008 6:59:28 PM PDT
The budget drama has been more than just a political stalemate for so many Californians. Those who depend on state funding for serious needs, like medical and convalescent care, are really hurting. The question now is can they hang on while waiting for a check from the politicians in Sacramento.

There are 182 residents and 184 staff at Concord's Villa San Miguel skilled nursing home. Without a state budget, they will all be left with nowhere to go in about a week.

Donald Morley, 73, has Parkinson's disease, dementia and schizophrenia. He can't do anything for himself. His wife of 50 years, Betty, has visited him every day of the five years he's lived here.

"It's just like family to him, this is his home. I cannot take care of him because I don't have the facilities to care of him with," said Betty Morley.

Owner-operator Velda Pierce holds a letter from the state with the ugly financials; they now owe her $1.5 million. She says she'd prefer emergency funding over a shoddy budget that doesn't protect healthcare funding.

"In reality it isn't a good budget. It doesn't solve the issues or future problems," said Pierce.
"Doesn't that matter to you at this point? Wouldn't you rather have it go through?" asked ABC7's Heather Ishimaru.
"No," said Pierce.

At Brookside Community Health Center in San Pablo, a $500,000 loan will keep them afloat until mid-October. Executive Director Cheryl Johnson says they need the money so she hopes the legislature does override the governor's veto, but like pierce, she's not happy with the budget.

"It's a budget, it passed, we're excited about it, but it really didn't deal with any of the fundamental issues of the budget in itself. It's just basically going to be the next guy's problem," said Johnson.

These desperate times have spurred a new activism. Johnson says they and other medical clinics plan to start a voter registration drive among their patients.

"We want our patients to be able to advocate for themselves and let to politicians know these are people to be reckoned with," said Johnson.

At Villa San Miguel, pierce is calling the families together for an emergency meeting early next week.


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