The program provides medical care to adults who cannot be left alone during the day. Cindy Kinzer is a member of the community advisory committee for Adult Day Health and her mother-in-law made use of the program for more than five years.
"It really gave us a life," said Kinzer. "We could go six to eight hours without worrying about Stella. I knew her dignity and respect were well taken care of."
But when this year ends, so will the Adult Day Health program. Gritman recently decided that it could no longer afford to subsidize the service. When the program originally began, it received funding from a federal grant.
"When the grant was started back in 2001, the thought that the program was going to happen is, after that grant period was over, we felt that Medicare was going to start paying for the program," said Gritman Medical Center CEO Kara Besst.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. The program is currently funded by Medicaid and by the people who use the service. It has lost about $360,000 annually for the last three years. Gritman has subsidized the program by $3.8 million since it opened, and it has explored options such as possible partnerships or acquisitions of the program.
"We looked at a variety of options out there and just couldn't find anybody that would be able to take it on," said Besst.
Eight full-time and five part-time employees will lose their positions with the program, but Gritman hopes to incorporate them into other services within the hospital. The families of the 43 participants will have to worry about what to do with their dependent loved ones.
"It's totally devastating," said Kinzer. "It is a service that is so needed. These families and the participants, I don't know what they're going to do now that it's gone."
The families affected were provided a list of alternatives that can provide a similar service when Adult Day Health is no longer available, but there's nothing that can replace it exactly. The loss of the program creates a great deal of frustration and sadness for those who've come to depend upon it.
"Lots of tears," said Kinzer. "Lots of tears, and just no answers."