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Day Out not just for patients

June 24, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

Keeping people involved with others and keeping them active are just two of the goals of Day Out Adult Day Health Care in El Centro.

Miryan Garcia, program director and registered nurse, said there is the Day Out program and an Alzheimer's disease program.

"The focus of our program is to try to keep people from being institutionalized," Garcia said.

The Day Out program is funded through Medi-Cal, grants and private payments. The Alzheimer's program operates as a nonprofit organization.

There are plenty of activities to keep patients involved.

The back wall holds a month's worth of activities, including coffee and social time in the morning, followed by a nature walk around the El Centro Town Square, exercises, reading the newspaper, ring toss, horse shoes and music appreciation. When the group is read "Dear Abby," patients are asked to give their answers to the question.

Patients are from throughout the Imperial Valley, Garcia said.

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"Everybody here gets treated with a lot of respect," she said.

Garcia said the programs reduce the burden on patients' families and allow family members to work while someone looks after their loved ones.

Each patient spends a minimum of four hours per visit, but not all of those in attendance are there under doctors' orders.

El Centro resident Virginia Vindiola, 68, said she goes to Day Out "to keep from going crazy."

She said she lives by herself, and though her children visit her frequently, it's not the same as spending entire days with people.

"Next month will be my fourth year here," Vindiola said, adding it's nice to talk with others in her age group. "I'm learning Spanish and they're learning English. I say ‘buenos dias,' and they say ‘good morning.'"

Vindiola visits three times a week but expects to one day stop visiting when the city builds a senior center.

Another participant, albeit a patient, is Holtville resident Nancy Whitcomb, 43. She has been in physical therapy following a car accident about seven years ago in which she suffered injuries to her right side, she said.

"I like to interact with people," she said when asked what she enjoys at Day Out. "I like everything about it."

Day Out's activities director is Martha Mares.

As she leads a tour of the facility, the group, having just returned from the nature walk, is sitting in a circle doing exercises. They roll their necks; "pick apples," which involves raising a hand as if plucking an apple from a tree and placing it in a basket on the ground; "boxing," where they move their arms out in front of their bodies and back again; and more. The exercises are led in Spanish and English.

Mares said the importance of reading newspapers to the group is because it is the only way to keep them informed of current events. She said they won't do it at home. The group also gets visits from agencies that offer appropriate services, including the Imperial Irrigation District, whose representative gives advice on how to reduce their electrical bills.

The program includes a psychologist, podiatrist, certified nurses assistants, two registered nurses and social workers. Mares said all staff members are CNAs and hold appropriate licenses. In addition there are occupational, physical and speech therapists.

Once a month a Catholic priest comes in to celebrate Mass.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative brain disorder initially characterized by trembling lips and hands and muscular rigidity, later producing body tremors, a shuffling gait, and eventually possible incapacity.

Alzheimer's disease is described as a progressive, irreversible disease that typically develops after age 40 in both men and women and involves such symptoms as loss of memory, disorientation, emotional outbursts, speech and gait disturbances, and a general deterioration of mental ability.

Patients have access to magazines, puzzles, crochet, bingo, lotería, Uno, dominoes, checkers and painting.

Mares said the men like to refinish furniture, while the women like to make quilts.

"Everybody participates," she said.

There are also cooking classes, and Mares allows the patients to choose what kind of food they'd like to make, including chilaquiles and salads.

Food for lunch is brought in from the El Centro Regional Medical Center and is monitored by nutritionists.

One wall has large photographs of past parties.

"I keep these pictures to remember old times," Mares said.

Day Out has a sister facility in Brawley. The program is monitored by the state Department of Health and locally by the Area Agency on Aging.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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