One year ago, we closed the LAS office to comply with the Alameda County Shelter in Place order and curb the spread of COVID-19. At the time, we only expected to be closed to the public temporarily, with the initial Shelter in Place order covering just two-and-a-half weeks. As the months went on, the LAS team has continued to adapt in countless ways while dealing with the effects of this pandemic on their personal lives.
On this anniversary, I wanted to recognize the incredible resilience and hard work of our organization and staff over the past year. During a time when our older adults were more isolated than ever, our LAS team found creative ways to reach them and meet their needs with compassion and respect. LAS has survived, adapted and thrived, continuing to serve our clients and community despite the challenges this year has brought.
Here are some highlights of what our LAS team has accomplished in the past year:
Every department adjusted their procedures, communication, methods and workflow to adjust to remote work, with a great deal of technical support from Leo Treggiari
Brought on 5 new staff members: Felecia Robinson, Greg Bedard, Maria Palazzolo, Christian Ramos and Nora Abushaaban
Successfully converted our Annual Conference on Elder Abuse to a well-attended virtual event with almost 400 unique participants
Opened over 600 legal cases and closed over 700 legal cases, including securing over 50 restraining orders, 40 guardianships (represented and pro per), and 10 citizenships
Completed over 100 virtual CE presentations for seniors and senior service providers
Distributed over 12,000 flyers through various meal delivery/grocery pick-up programs
Reached over 300,000 people through mentions or brief articles in Senior Center newsletters since the Shelter in Place began
HICAP staff was able to answer all calls and address many client needs during the busy AEP, as well as providing online training via webinars and weekly study groups to keep the volunteers informed and connected throughout the year
HICAP Volunteer Counselors have been flexible and resilient and made their own creative adjustments to provide quality and detailed assistance despite the challenges of phone counseling
The agency provided a fun and meaningful online volunteer recognition event with special deliveries of gift bags to the volunteers ahead of time
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it encapsulates some of the achievements most meaningful to our LAS team.
Thanks to everyone for helping to support our mission of ensuring the rights and dignity of seniors during these uniquely challenging times.
Remembering a Dear Friend and Advocate, Susan O’Hara
Every time I think about Susan, I cannot help but smile. That’s always a good sign. Susan was one of those amazing and rare individuals who helped her community in so many ways and asked nothing in return. In fact, she asked less than nothing, as she did not like the spotlight. As an advocate for the rights of older adults and persons with disabilities, she was tireless in her advocacy and supportive efforts. Although LAS was only one of the many agencies she cared about, she provided inspiration in her drive and demonstrated a deep commitment to the older adults we support.
I only had the chance to meet Susan a few times in person, but on each occasion, she made a big impression. Susan had the rare ability to lead and inspire. I remember being more excited about the work after every meeting with her. It was truly an honor to do this work besides Susan and I hope in some small way, we can live up to her vision of a more just society by emulating the qualities she demonstrated to others: dedication, perseverance, humility, and strength.
In April 2020, Center for Health Care Rights sent out an alert regarding Governor Newsom’s March 2020 Executive Order that allows Californians to keep their Medi-Cal benefits during this emergency period.
As of March 16, 2020, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has instructed all California counties to suspend processing Medi-Cal annual renewals and redeterminations of Medi-Cal eligibility that would discontinue or reduce Medi-Cal coverage during this emergency period, including assessing new Shares of Cost. On July 23, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Azar extended the federal Public Health Emergency until October 25, 2020.
This means that people with Medi-Cal should not have their Medi-Cal benefits terminated or reduced during the current emergency period of March through October 2020. At the earliest, Medi-Cal renewals and redeterminations will be processed as of October 31, 2020.
If you are or someone you know or work with is an older adult (60 +) or younger person on Medicare due to a disability living in Alameda County, whose Medi-Cal benefits have been terminated or downgraded as of March 17, 2020, please call Legal Assistance for Seniors/HICAP for assistance: 510-832-3040 or 510-839-0393. You may also fill out a Request for Assistance for here: https://www.lashicap.org/contact/