DHS Program Providing In-Home Care For Elderly, Disabled Facing Possible Admissions Freeze

Friday, June 16th 2017, 9:57 pm
By: News On 6

DHS says it might have to put a freeze on admissions for its home health care program. That means some of Oklahoma's elderly and disabled would not get the help they need.

Willa Baker will turn 80 this year, but she's so sharp, you wouldn't know it unless you gave her something to read.

"The right eye is completely blind, the left eye, doctors are working on it, trying to save it,” said Baker.

Because she's legally blind, Willa needs a lot of help at home. And she gets it from the state's ADvantage Waiver Program.

Nurses come every week to organize her pills and prepare her insulin. Someone helps her clean her apartment and takes her to doctor's appointments. She even gets meals delivered.

"A double big blessing,” she stated. “A triple big blessing. Yes, yes."

Because of the state's budget shortfall, DHS is considering a freeze on the ADvantage Waiver Program. The program would stop taking new clients.

"If this happens, there's going to be folks like Willa who have to have the help and they're just not going to have it,” said Baker’s case manager Donna Justus.

Justus makes sure that Willa and many other elderly or disabled Oklahomans are getting nursing home level care in their own homes.

But the program can't help anyone if it doesn't have the money.

"We're asking everyone to contact your legislators,” said Justus. “We want them to help fund DHS programs in order to help our most vulnerable populations, which is who it would affect, you're talking the aged, the blind, the disabled."

Baker added, "Without the program, I'm serious, I don't know what I would do."

DHS says the freeze is one of several options on the table right now.