Lutheran Social Services closes facilities - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Lutheran Social Services closes facilities

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - A budget crunch creates a domino effect in Eau Claire and those with disabilities are being forced to make big changes.

First CHP closed, then Lifenet said it would do the same.  Now, the latest Eau Claire home health care provider has made the announcement.

Lutheran Social Services will close several residential facilities in Eau Claire for those with physical and cognitive disabilities.  The reason why has become very common:  it says reimbursement rates are not enough to keep up with costs.

"There comes a certain time when there is really not a lot more efficiencies to be found," says Lutheran Social Services Executive Director Rita Wiersma.

That's when Lutheran Social Services made the decision to close four adult care homes in Eau Claire and lay off 44 employees.

"We just cannot financially continue to run them at the current rates.  But again, it's a combination of, we hope that people can begin to see that there are other ways to provide that service too," says Wiersma.

Transitioning patients out of traditional services and into their own homes or apartments.

"Part of the reason that we are looking toward Community Supported Living and serving people differently and in their own homes is exactly that, trying to find a new way of doing service with a limited amount of money," says Wiersma.

It's also allowing patients to gain independence through this new form of care.

"You and I don't want everybody in our life to be paid staff, neither do people with disabilities who are aging.  We want to have our friends and our family and our community involvement. So that's what it's really about.  We know that there's only a limited amount of money.  We know that the federal government only has so many dollars through Medicaid to pay," says Wiersma.

Lutheran Social Services expects to close the four homes in April and is working with existing patients to find new homes or to join its independent care program.

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