"Supervisors asked to protest cuts to ombudsman program"
SanLuisObispo.com • The Tribune
The board will discuss writing state representatives to get funds restored for elder abuse investigations
Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008
To the growing list of people who are affected by the state budget crisis, add the elderly in nursing and residential care facilities.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken his blue pencil and vetoed the state’s share of the ombudsman program, leaving only the federal half of the funding.
The effects in San Luis Obispo County "put long–term care facility residents at risk of abuse and neglect," according to a report to the Board of Supervisors from Nikki Schmidt of the county administrator’s office.
Schmidt’s office is asking the board to write state Sen. Abel Maldonado and Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee and ask them to fund the program. The board is scheduled to discuss the request on Tuesday.
Karen Stenson of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program of San Luis Obispo County has suggested places in the state budget where the legislators can find the money, such as two special accounts that hold fines from nursing homes.
The ombudsman is the "only program to advocate for residents," according to Stenson. It monitors the homes and "acts as the lead agency in investigating abuse cases," she wrote in a report to the county.
The cuts already have cost one staff position and moved the local program out of its role as lead agency in elder abuse investigations. Those duties will add to the workload of local law enforcement and result in fewer prosecutions, Stenson wrote.
The ombudsman investigates complaints on everything from food to physical, sexual and financial abuse.
BY THE NUMBERS: THE OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM
- People served: 3,000
- Skilled nursing facilities: 9, with 826 beds
- Residential care facilities: 87, with 1,196 beds
- Complaints of abuse, isolation or neglect July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008: 77
- Facility visits during the same period: 1,399