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A Decision That Changed Lives
    Jun 20, 2010

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11 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Olmstead v. L.C. decision. This decision changed the lives of not only the 2 woman in the law suit but effected the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled persons all over most of the United Stated including several in the Bainbridge area.

This landmark case began in Georgia because two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, spent most of their lives in a segregated institution, even though treating professionals determined they didn't need to be there. Ms. Curtis and Ms. Wilson wanted to live in the community and this was their right.  All they needed were appropriate community-based services.  The Court agreed and ruled in their favor.

On June 16th, BAIN, Inc held their annual celebration, 'The Long Road Home', of the decision that has helped several area residents transition from a nursing home environment to live independently in the community. BAIN Nursing Home Transition Coordinator Wanda Becon introduced several who had made a successful transition back into the community.
Wanda Becon with client Kevin Mitchell who has made a successful transition out of long-term care back into the community.

Guest speaker for the event was Dr. Steve Depalo. Dr. Depalo is 1 of 50 Georgia Ombudsman staff and volunteers. Ombudsman serve residents of long-term care facilities, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, educate facility staff and the community, and monitor conditions in the facilities.

Dr. Steve Depalo
Dr. Depalo stated that the Ombudsman program began in the 1970s by Richard Nixon because of the amount of abuse found in nursing homes because they weren't being regulated. He stated that the programs vary from state to state and that the model for the Ombudsman program was developed in Georgia.

"The stories of past years are terrible," Dr. Depalo stated. "We're still not there but we're getting there." he said in regard to the physical and financial abuse that some long-term care residents face. Ombudsman go into the long-term care facilities and listen to the residents concerns. If the residents want, Ombudsman can file a complaint for them.

The Long-term Care Ombudsman Program is governed by the federal Older Americans Act and by Georgia law. The Division of Aging Services of the Department of Human Resources administers the statewide Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program through 13 community programs located throughout the state.

These programs are affiliated with Area Agencies on Aging and funded with federal, as well as state and local, dollars. There is no charge for services provided by the Ombudsman program. For more information about long-term care, contact the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at 888-454-5826 or Adult Protective Services (APS) 888-774-0152





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