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When Home And Health Are Just Out Of Reach

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
01/09/15  4:38 PM PST
Home And Health

When Home And Health Are Just Out Of Reach By Sarah Jane Tribble of WCPN for Kaiser Health News

Donna Giron is frail. She has Crohn’s disease and uses a wheelchair to get around because walking exhausts her.

But she doesn’t want to be in the nursing home where she has lived since May.

Giron, 65, is looking to rent a small house in the industrial town in the Cleveland suburbs where she grew up. Using federal funds from a special project, thousands of elderly and disabled nursing home residents have been able to move into their own homes in recent years. The experimental project has reached people in 44 states, including more than 5,400 in Ohio. It connects people to the medical and living support they need to move into private homes, so that they can live independently.

But often the housing is the sticking point. Giron doesn’t have family members who could take her in, so she’s house-hunting. As she tours one likely prospect, she manages to get out of her wheelchair to maneuver down some stairs; at the bottom, Giron looks out a window at the front porch and says she can picture herself sitting outside watching the neighborhood.

Then, she sees the kitchen.

“Oh, we even got a dishwasher! Oh, my goodness gracious. Yeah, I want this one. I want this one,” she says, laughing.

Despite her health problems, Giron feels out of place in the nursing home, where many residents are older and sicker than she is.

“I’m a very independent woman,” she says. “I have been for most of my life. I mean, I’ve had to be.”

But independence is difficult to achieve. And until recently her health insurance – Medicaid — has been the roadblock. Ohio Medicaid director John McCarthy explains that the federal program that offers health coverage for the poor and disabled is primarily set up to help people live in nursing homes.

Read the Full Article at Kaiser Health News.