Deadline looms for center |

Deadline looms for center

The Lutz Adult Day Care program in Grass Valley has until August to find a new home.

The Lutz Center building – home for the county’s only licensed day health care facility for the elderly and disabled – is currently in escrow and moving towards sale.

The building’s prospective new owners intend to lease back the lower floor until Aug. 31, 2003, said Bobby Swanson, Lutz Center executive director.

Proceeds from the sale, Swanson said, will be divided between the Lutz Center and its parent organization – the Senior Citizens Foundation – with the Lutz share going towards purchase of a new facility.

However, Swanson said, it’s unrealistic to assume that a new building can be funded and built by the August deadline.

“So the option is to find current available space that can be refurbished or remodeled to meet state licensing standards,” Swanson said. “The hard part will be finding that kind of space (4,000 square-feet) that we can afford. We would hope we can find a philanthropic landlord to make the rent affordable.”

The good news, Swanson said, is that all the Lutz program’s debts will be paid off through the sale of the building.

Due to dwindling enrollment, Swanson said the program was losing between $5,000 and $6,000 a month and had incurred a $150,000 debt over the last several years.

Part of the original agreement when the building was purchased was for the Lutz program to get from under the Senior Citizens Foundation umbrella, Swanson said.

“They’ve been trying to separate for four years and it just turns out that the only way to do that is to clear the Lutz debt and go on from there,” said Sallie Faulkner, president of the Senior Citizen Foundation’s board of directors. “The money we needed to keep them going in that building just wasn’t to be had.”

Through the sale of the building, Swanson said the Lutz Adult Day Care program will become an independent non-profit.

While Swanson acknowledged that the change will be difficult, she stressed that the focus remains on keeping the program alive.

“We’re hoping to find space that will be as good as or better than where we are and attractive enough to encourage increased participation in the program so it can survive,” she said.

To reduce financial loses, cuts in staffing and hours of operation were made and the program’s licensed enrollment was reduced from 75 to 49 clients.

To meet state licensing standards, a certain level of staffing must be maintained whether the program has one client or 49. Swanson said that can lead to costly overhead when enrollment is down.

Currently, there are 46 people enrolled in the adult day care program, which has an average daily attendance of 25.

Despite the cuts implemented over the summer and fall, Swanson said the program hasn’t lost a single client.

“Meaning the program is still on track and viable,” she said.

Aside from providing services for the elderly and disabled, Faulkner and Swanson said the program also provides vital respite services for caregivers.

“We are grateful to the Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center, the Area 4 Agency on Aging and the Untied Way for their continued support for respite services, which is a critical component of the Lutz program,” Swanson said.

Respite services give care givers a rest from the stress of round-the-clock care of a loved one, and time to do chores, read a book, get their hair done, or play a round of golf, Swanson said.

“And in turn, their loved one is getting some socialization and activities to help maintain their cognitive skills and make their lives better,” she said.

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