MT. VERNON — Proposed state cuts to Human Services programs could severely impact facilities like the Addus Adult Day Center Evergreen Club, say Addus officials.
The local Addus club at 108 N. Third St. hosted a news conference Wednesday calling for the state not to make “sweeping” budget cuts that would hurt seniors, the disabled, and other “vulnerable” populations receiving care.
Addus officials and clients served by the facility spoke out at Wednesday's conference.
“I am so blessed that I could come here and I hope I get to come the rest of my life,” said client Marie South.
State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, was also on hand for the event. She toured the Addus site and pledged to do whatever she could to help ensure the facility keeps getting adequate funding.
“It is incumbent upon those of us that are in the Legislature to work towards the funding to keep places like this going,” Bryant said. “And I can tell you that I'm working as hard as I can to do that, to bring both sides together and come back to the table (to) try to find the money.”
Addus Evergreen Clubs are adult day centers that provide social, health and supportive services in a “community-based setting,” state Addus officials. The programs are used by seniors and younger adults who have impairments or need companionship.
The organization also provides home and community-based services that allow clients to live safely in their own homes. These services may include bathing, dressing, grooming, meal preparation, housekeeping and more.
Addus Program Director Mikilyn Schutt praised the effectiveness of Addus' programs, both locally and beyond.
“Since the beginning of our Community Care Program, which includes Adult Day Services and our HomeCare, it has demonstrated its effectiveness at delaying and preventing the need for older adults to move to a nursing home,” Schutt said. “Independent studies have shown that due to Community Care more seniors reside at home, where they want to be, than in a nursing home despite the enormous increase in the number of seniors eligible to be in nursing homes.”
She added that home and community-based programs provide care at about a third of the cost of nursing homes.
“To cut the number of seniors that can benefit themselves of this cost saving and effective program just doesn't make sense from a public policy or from a financial perspective,” Schutt said. “With respect for the fact that Illinois needs to overhaul its finances, this program is part of the solution not the problem.”
Addus client Tex Halfacre said he doesn't know what he would do if he didn't have help from the Evergreen Club.
“When I retired, my Social Security just wasn't enough for me to get by on things,” Halfacre said. He later added, “I really enjoy it here and enjoy the clientele and everybody. I hope this program stays. It's really necessary.”
The state announced proposed cuts to Human Services programs earlier this month. The budget, however, has not been finalized and Bryant said she's hopeful upcoming negotiations will have a positive outcome.
“So I think when we get the Governor and Speaker Madigan to come together and get back to the table again, then I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to find a resolution for this stuff, because no one wants places like this to go away.”
Janna Miller, an Addus home care aide, said the proposed cuts are alarming.
“The cuts that are being proposed scare us,” Miller said. “It's a very scary thing to think that I'm not going to have my seniors to care for because they won't let me go in and take care of them. If I could work for free, I would love to, I just can't.”