On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, the City of Citrus Heights and the Citrus Heights Police Department participated in Sacramento Steps Forward’s ‘Point in Time’ (PIT) homeless count to assist the organization in getting the best picture possible of homelessness in Citrus Heights, so that financial and other resources can be allocated appropriately.
The Department of Urban Development (HUD) provides direction for the counting process and Sacramento Steps Forward is responsible for conducting the count, which includes creating the maps."
The count is federally mandated and must be conducted every two years in each city where HUD is working with other government and nonprofits providers to provide funding to help with the many issues related to homelessness.
An email from Katherine Cooley, Community & Economic Development, who was also a volunteer, read, “It is always our goal to provide resources to our homeless population where needed, while also enforcing laws to preserve residents’ quality of life. We address this issue using a multi-pronged approach and our partnership with Sacramento Steps Forward is one example of this.”
According the Elise Beckman, Consultant PIT Coordinator with Steps Forward, the Citrus Heights count was part of a county-wide effort, with an additional 220 volunteers were deployed from the Department of Human Assistance (DHA) in mid-town Sacramento to the cities of Elk Grove, Folsom, Galt, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento and Isleton.
According the Sgt. Jason Baldwin in a phone interview: two years ago, after ‘being forgotten’ in the count, the City and the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHDP), closely following HUD’s mapped sections and count method, took on the project, recruiting volunteers from the community to help. These five sections are just a portion of the city mapped out by HUD to determine funding.
On January 25, a dozen volunteers were teamed up with a dozen police officers. Volunteers included city workers, members of the Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) and members of American Legion Post 637.
A short training was conducted at the police department. Baldwin and Cooley told volunteers what to expect throughout the five sections the city was divided into, and how to locate the homeless in those areas. A form to keep track of those counted was explained, including at what kind of venue they were found, their age, gender and race.
Volunteers were then divided up into teams with two officers assigned to volunteers assigned to each of their five sections of the city. At 7 p.m. the teams were deployed to their assigned sections.
This reporter participated in the count, following Officers James Garing and Nate Hutson in their squad car. The officers quickly scoured every inch of each area of their sector, with their vehicle spotlights. They would often jump out of their vehicle with flashlights to further inspect specific areas including dumpsters, creek beds, strip malls, other shopping areas, residential streets and undeveloped greenbelts. They knew where they were looking and who they might expect to find in each section.
Some volunteers trudged into the ‘forested areas’ to view a homeless camp either still populated or deserted, many still covered with remnants of an abandoned encampment. It was an enlightening experience.
At the end of the night, about 11 p.m. officers Garing and Hutson deemed it to be a ‘quiet night’, with only 19 counted in Section Five. These had been found on sidewalks, in a laundromat and in front of a 7-11 at a strip mall, also riding their bicycles and in an encampment. A total of ninety-three total homeless had been counted in the five mapped sections of Citrus Heights, also covering city parks, schools, the library, large and small businesses, parking lots and other public areas.
In an email following the count, Beckman said, “I was impressed by Sgt. Baldwin and the CHPD, and we certainly appreciated their support in operating a count for the Citrus Heights map areas.”
At the end of the night, on January 25, 70 mapped sections had been counted in the seven cities in the Sacramento County. Two hundred eighty-nine volunteers, put in 1,416 hours. The final statistics will be available later in the year.
Sources: City of Citrus Heights, Citrus Heights Police Department, Sacramento Steps Forward, HUD.
One Sacramento-based company has quietly and efficiently carved a niche into the home health care business by providing superlative care for patients and caregivers alike. The “whole-istic” business model of Advanced Home Health and Hospice (AHHH) has earned them not only professional accolades and a thriving business, but a stellar reputation for their positive results for even the most complex patient care. The beating heart of this organization is founder Angela Sehr. Sehr is a woman with a mission and a vision with patient wellbeing in the Sacramento area.
Born in Xian, China, home of the famous Terra Cotta Warriors, Sehr started college at 15 and became a nurse at 18. The youngest of nine children, her siblings are also high achievers with a judge, college professor, engineer and a teacher among her immediate family.
Shyly self-admitted as a teacher’s pet, she loved science from a very young age. She says her mother encouraged her children to all be independent. “Marry well, she said, but always be able to stand on your own two feet,” was her mom’s advice.
Sehr may now be the boss, but she is far from being afraid to roll up her sleeves when it comes to patient care. She paid her dues with years in hands-on nursing. In fact, she still takes care of patients herself, in addition to her many other duties. AHHH offers patients around the clock care, just one of the many aspects that separate them from their competition. “I go out to patients’ homes at 2 in the morning if they need it, just like everyone else on staff,” said Sehr.
Sehr is a Registered Nurse who has worked around the world with patients of all ages and many different health issues. She came to Sacramento, having worked in places like China and Saudi Arabia. She attended Sacramento State’s Nursing program and earned her BSN here, spending over a decade in pediatric care and found her way into Infusion care as a nurse for patients in need of this specialized help. She has built her company on years of caring for infusion patients. Her company carries her compassion forward, providing top-notch, compassionate care for patients and their families.
During a time when healthcare laws and models are in flux. Sehr’s company, AHHH has built a company that successfully and efficiently treats and maintains a base of anywhere from 600 to 800 patients, more than double similar programs of even healthcare giants like full-fledged local hospital systems. To meet the need AHHH has found, the company currently has a staff of approximately 400 highly-trained specialists performing an impressive array of care and support services, and specializes in “complex” patients, often avoiding such patients having to be readmitted to hospitals.
AHHH is as advertised. Staff is on-call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. They provide truly advanced wound care, infusion nursing, orthopedic, occupation and physical rehabilitation, speech and swallow function therapy, specialized medical social workers and a chaplaincy ministering to the patients and their loved ones. The tiniest staff member is a therapy dog.
AHHH is a Medicare Certified Home Health Provider. They are licensed by the by the California Department of Public Health. They have provided care for premature babies, pre-and post op patients, patients such as diabetics with wounds that can be nearly impossible to heal. Many of these are patients the hospitals have given up on and AHHH has succeeded where others have failed, improving patient outcome in terms of health and healing. Sehr is intent that her teams utilize the latest technology to treat patients and makes available ultrasound and laser therapy, in addition to debridement if physician ordered.
The Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) alone, per Sehr can be highly effective in treating, diabetic ulcers, venous stasis and arterial ulcers, and many other types of non-healing wounds.
The hospice care that Sehr’s company provides is a growing service, based on industry best practices, but also on her own experiences as a nurse. Most hospice patients they see are given six months or less to live, but that isn’t an outcome set in stone. “We don’t give up,” she says. “We’re not God, but people do ‘graduate’ from hospice. They do get better.”
Hospice care provides comfort care to patients and family. “Advanced hospice nurses are registered nurses specifically dedicated to end-of-life care. They are focused on pain and symptom management for our patients around the clock. In addition to serving the terminally ill, hospice clinical team counsel and educate caregivers and family members on the needs of the patient, guiding them through every issue that may arise. Our hospice nurses work as a part of an interdisciplinary team that develops and manages the care for our patients and their families.”
A vital part of their team are the hospice social workers who are there to support patients and their families. “Our social workers are trained to assist our patients and their families on developing an individualized plan of care, researching ways to relief stress and anxiety by non-medical means, and connecting them with appropriate local resources.
“We understand that our patients and their families may have financial problems. Our social workers are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to provide counseling in these areas, as well as coordinating possible aid from other organizations,” Sehr commented.
What does it mean to be an advanced hospice social worker? According to AHHH, “It means to be a supporter of our patients and their families. Our social workers are trained to assist our patients and their families on developing an individualized plan of care, researching ways to relief stress and anxiety by non-medical means, and connecting them with appropriate local resources.
“A loss of a loved one, even if anticipated, brings a slew of emotions and grief for surviving family and friends. Our hospice bereavement professionals and volunteers are trained to provide counseling and support by understanding the loss and compassionately walking step by step with surviving spouses, children, or parents.”
“To help our patients cope with the end of their life, AHHH provides spiritual services by certified chaplains to promote spiritual and emotional well-being. Our chaplains may also work with the patient’s clergy and coordinate spiritual nourishment and revitalization.”
Sehr credits hospice volunteers for the selfless work they do as part of the organization. “Our hospice volunteers spend time with patients and their loved ones. They run errands and provide caregiver relief, companionship, and supportive services. Volunteers are the backbone of our hospice team.”. Volunteers form bonds with patients and family members. Patients and families often tell volunteers things they feel they can’t tell their loved ones and help open the way for people to talk honestly. Volunteers work alongside paid staff in every area of hospice care.”
AHHH truly treat the entire family, and that includes monthly bereavement support group meeting. “At Advanced Hospice, patients are nearing and passing the end of their life, leaving behind husbands, wives, sons, and daughters,” according to the company website.
“When a patient is diagnosed with a serious illness or is recovering from an injury, our medical professionals, nurses, and therapists work hard to rejuvenate him/her to normal life. In addition to purely medical procedures, medications, and techniques, a huge part of a person’s recovery depends on his/her psychosocial condition.”
AHHH is making a concerted effort to reach America’s veterans. “Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and we believe it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. That’s why our hospice is taking part in the We Honor Veterans program. Our staff understand the unique needs of veterans and are prepared to meet the specific challenges that veterans and their families may face at the end of life.”
AHHH measures its success with data, not just good feelings. Their clinicians log every visit in detail, right down to wound and physical improvement, modality effectiveness, length of visit and many more details. That data is analyzed for the benefit of each patient, but the accumulation of data is used by the company to improve patient outcome and patient satisfaction. The company has recently broken ground on its next project, a free-standing Hospice Facility. While starting small, at 6 beds, it will be the only hospice in the area and unlike any other, due again to Sehr’s experience and personal touch.
Homelessness is a large and complicated challenge nationwide and especially here in the state of California. Per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are approximately 113,000 homeless individuals in California – 20% of all homeless people in the United States. California has the highest rate of unsheltered homeless -67%. ‘Sacramento Steps Forward’ reports that the 2015 Point in Time Homeless Count revealed 2,650 homeless persons experiencing homelessness.
Citrus Heights HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) a group of nonprofits, street ministries, service and government organizations, churches and others formed in 2015 to develop solutions on a local level. The group’s mission is to provide resources that will enable at-risk people and those experiencing homelessness in Citrus Heights and adjacent areas to become independent, self-sustaining and participating members of the community.
Surveys indicate that Citrus Heights homeless prefer to stay in the Citrus Heights area and this is most likely true of other areas as well. CH HART is one of three HART groups which includes Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove HART. Each HART focuses on its own programs to address local issues associated with homelessness.
Citrus Heights HART focuses on a few programs: Homeless Outreach Navigator, Stand Down event for homeless veterans and Winter Sanctuary. CH HART has worked with the City of Citrus Heights to develop and activate a homeless outreach navigator program. The Navigator assists homeless individuals in various ways by connecting them with available services. Most social and judicial services are in the urban core/downtown which presents a challenge and obstacle to homeless and at risk populations in the outer core (suburbs).
“In 2017, we plan to advocate more aggressively for County services to more conveniently and effectively address issues in the areas outside of downtown core,” said Kathilynn Carpenter, founding member and Chair of CH HART.
CH HART held its first Stand Down event on March 30 of this year and assisted approximately 80 veterans with Veteran’s Affairs issues, legal services, medical, hair-cuts and showers, clothing, pet services and more. The second annual event is planned for April 18, 2017.
This past winter, CH HART participated in the Rancho Cordova Winter Sanctuary program and hosted a one week shelter at Holy Family Church. This winter, the group is hosting its own program and currently committed to four weeks beginning December 26.
The group has recently formed a Housing Committee to explore ways they can help with housing opportunities in more tangible ways through master leasing programs, transitional housing and other options.
The holidays are a time to celebrate the joy and warmth of the season with friends and family. In Sacramento, the local Home Instead Senior Care® office is inviting the community to celebrate with local seniors who may be alone during the holiday season.
The Home Instead Senior Care office serving Sacramento is helping to facilitate Be a Santa to a Senior®, a community program that provides gifts and companionship to seniors who may be isolated from friends or family during the holiday season. The program is made possible through the generous support of Sacramento businesses, nonprofit organizations, retailers, numerous volunteers and members of the community.
“The holidays can be a troubling time for seniors. They may feel the absence or the distance of loved ones,” said Buck Shaw of the Sacramento Home Instead Senior Care office. “Be a Santa to a Senior provides a ray of hope for many seniors, and it means so much for them to know that people care and value them as members of our community.”
The local Home Instead Senior Care office has partnered with Oakwood Village and Meals on Wheels to help with gift collection and distribution.
Holiday shoppers are invited to participate in Be a Santa to a Senior by picking up a paper ornament at a participating location. Participating locations will display Be a Santa to a Senior trees from Nov. 1 to Dec. 28, which will be hung with ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and their desired gifts. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it back to the store with the ornament attached. There’s no need to worry about wrapping — community volunteers and program partners will wrap and deliver the gifts to local seniors in time for the holidays.
“Be a Santa to a Senior provides a much-needed boost for seniors who may be isolated, not just through gifts, but through interaction and companionship,” said Shaw. “We’re so grateful to have a community that comes together to show our local seniors they are not alone during the holidays.”
Be a Santa to a Senior trees can be found at the following locations: Eskaton Lodge Gold River, 11390 Coloma Rd., Gold River, CA 95670 - Brookdale Stock Ranch Road, 7418 Stock Ranch Road, Citrus Heights, CA 95621 - Sun Oak Senior Living, 7241 Canelo Hills Dr., Citrus Heights, CA 95610.
For more information about the program, visit www.beasantatoasenior.org or call Blair Sapeta, Program Coordinator, at (916) 920-2273.
On November 1, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement for $360,000 with Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) for the administration of the Winter Sanctuary Program. The Winter Sanctuary Program provides nighttime shelter with local faith-based organizations, including transportation and two meals, for Sacramento County’s homeless population from November 21 through April 30, 2017. “This is the fifth year of funding this program in order to provide 100 additional beds for Sacramento’s homeless each night during the winter,” said Chair of the Board Roberta MacGlashan. “We are pleased and grateful to the 19 congregations that have agreed to host and look forward to other organizations filling in the remaining open nights.”
As part of the agreement, SSF will provide monthly reports of the number of persons sheltered per night, including the breakdown of men, women and families served and their geographic origination. The data will be utilized to determine potential areas of focus for future funding opportunities.
Sacramento Steps Forward coordinates the shelter, transportation to and from the shelter sites, and meals with, as well as outreach and referral efforts for ongoing supportive services.
Currently, congregations have been lined up to provide services for every night except 52. Sac Steps Forward and its subcontractor, First Step Communities (FSC), are working to recruit congregations to fill out the list, including those that can accommodate pets, and two congregations to serve as intake sites for persons who are unable to travel to the main intake site of Loaves and Fishes.
In recruiting these additional intake sites, SSF and FSC are utilizing data to determine where the highest populations of homeless exist outside of the immediate geography of Loaves and Fishes.
The County is also providing $75,000 to Volunteers of America (VOA) for the period of November 21 through March 31, 2017 for the administration of the Winter Shelter Program for homeless families. Offered since 2011, this program has provided shelter to 876 adults and children since its inception.
The homeless are the invisible denizens of America's cities, says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens. “But, the dirty little secret that has only come to light recently is the fact that the elderly are among the fastest growing populations living on the streets,” he reports.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development told Congress last year that there were more than 300,000 homeless Americans 50 years of age or more, 20% more than there were in 2007.
A recognized expert on the issue of the growing number of older individuals who are on the streets is University of Pennsylvania Professor Dennis P. Culhane. He says that in 1990 “the peak age of adults who were homeless was 30” and that today the peak age is 55.
Weber is calling on all candidates for election and re-election in November and those in the private sector to recognize the fact that more seniors are homeless than ever before and to take to heart the needs of “these hapless lost souls. Focus on their plight and let the truth be told, loud and clear. Everyone needs to pitch in if we are to solve this problem, which only grows bigger with each passing day.”
Some would blame the spike in homelessness among older Americans on the swiftly aging population. But, Weber says, it has more to do with the rising cost of health care and health insurance, the lagging economy, the impact of such diseases of old age as cancer and Alzheimer’s and, perhaps the most damaging cause of all, the lack of affordable housing.
“In fact, talk to any health provider who deals with the homeless and they will tell you that there has been a dramatic shift in recent years in the illnesses from which they suffer. It used to be that the homeless suffered mainly from drug abuse and mental illness. Nowadays they are more likely to have the chronic diseases of old age,” Weber notes.
Mel Martinez and Allyson Y. Schwartz are the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Health and Housing Task Force. Martinez is a former U.S. Senator from Florida and Schwartz is a former Congresswoman from Pennsylvania. They published an Opinion Article in U.S. News and World Report last month in which they concluded that “preventing and ending homelessness among older adults should become a major national priority in the United States. By setting goals to end homelessness; increasing available low-income senior housing; and by understanding that the challenge requires participation from public and private partners at all levels, we can and will find ways to ensure that all U.S. seniors have the shelter and security that they deserve.”
Meanwhile, Margot Kushel, professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, is an expert on the elderly who become homeless. She says that providing them with housing is the key to fixing the problem. “A lot of these people have been healthy their whole lives. But it doesn't take long for their health to plummet once they're homeless. Once someone is housed, depression often lifts, stress fades away, infections heal. It's instant.”
Says Weber, “everyone has his own set of priorities, but one thing we all have in common is that we are all growing older. It's one of the hardest things we will all do in this life and so we should have compassion for those who need our help.”
The Association of Mature American Citizens [www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at www.amac.us/join-amac.
San Juan Unified is piloting a K-8 home school program and is currently enrolling students for the 2016-17 school year. The optional home school program helps meet students’ individual needs and offers support to families who choose to educate their children in kindergarten through eighth grade at home, partnering with a San Juan Unified credentialed teacher.
As part of the program, students must receive at least 4-6 hours of daily instruction in English and complete coursework meeting California standards for each subject. Additionally, parents or guardians must meet regularly with the assigned credentialed teacher, with flexible scheduling available. By participating in the home school program, families receive curriculum, ongoing guidance and vouchers for materials and activities for the school year.
For questions regarding enrolling your child, please call (916) 971-7017 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.