August 25, 2016 - 5:00 am
The term “adult day care” brings to mind a warehouse for the elderly with accompanying sights, sounds and smells.
But Christopher Vito, a self-proclaimed “health care romantic,” envisioned a center where disabled adults and the elderly could have their daily medical needs addressed while engaging in events designed to stimulate, educate, socialize and exercise the mind and body.
Vito, a former hospital executive with more than 30 years experience in the industry, and his wife Cristina, a registered nurse, established Las Vegas-based Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers in 2003. They wanted to put “health care into day care” by providing nursing services, physical, speech and occupational therapy. Vito is CEO and president of NADHC, and Cristina is the administrator and director of nursing. With three locations in Las Vegas, NADHC provides services to clients 18 or older. The facilities are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with transportation available.
Not just for the elderly
Born with severe cerebral palsy, Dawn Sabraw’s son Keaton surpassed all of the dire predictions the doctors made at birth.
“He’s proved them wrong — other than not having speech. He thinks things out; he plans ahead; he watches the clock,” said his mother.
Even with his limitations, Keaton loved attending Green Valley High School, 460 N. Arroyo Grande Blvd. Unfortunately, he aged out of the Clark County School District when he turned 21.
“He used to be very social,” Sabraw said.
Keaton went from being busy with school to spending the day watching TV under the watchful eye of his grandparents while his mother and stepfather worked. Sabraw knew her son needed more social interaction in his life.
“He’s pretty much trapped in his body with a mind that works like a 23-year-old,” Sabraw said.
In search of alternatives, Sabraw took the advice of a case worker at Desert Regional Center, a state agency that serves children and adults who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. The case worker recommended that Sabraw look for an adult daycare facility for her son. She tried the NADHC location at 8695 S. Eastern Ave.
“The moment I walked in the door, I could tell,” Sabraw said. “It was such a relief to have a place where he’s cared for. His needs are met, and he’s happy here. That’s my biggest thing — I want him socially happy.”
At first, his mother would drop him off at the center and pick him up. But Keaton wanted more independence, so he got his Regional Transportation Center Paratransit certification.
“He insisted on doing it himself,” Sabraw said.
Sabraw has a severe neck injury that makes lifting and caring for her 120-pound son challenging.
After a day at the center, “He would come home — his G-Tube feeding had already been done — somebody had changed him, and he had done something all day,” Sabraw said. “I didn’t have to do it all.”
When the unexpected happens
Former Chicago accountant Scott Symons suffered his second heart attack in 2009. The cardiac event affected his short-term memory.
Symons started coming to NADHC in 2010 and credits much of his slow-yet-steady recovery to the camaraderie he shares with the people he has met at the center.
Symons has assumed an unofficial role in the daily bingo game at the Eastern Avenue location.
“When I call bingo here, I know that I have a short-term memory loss, and I know that other people are a lot worse off than I am,” Symons said. “So I try to work their minds a little bit with simple math applications so they can work their memories and find the number before I even call it.”
Different ages and needs
NADHC’s Annex Program provides a classroom setting for the intellectually disabled. Clients who regularly attend include those with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, seizure disorders, and mentally challenged individuals.
The Expressions Program is geared toward teaching new skills to young adults (18 or older) with intellectual disabilities such as severe autism or other behavioral disabilities who are disruptive and/or have a difficult time in a classroom setting. The Elderly Care Program provides an array of resources and programs for the elderly to maintain their mobility and cognitive function.
Cost of day care
Adult day care centers are generally less expensive than nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. In most cases, adult day care is not covered by Medicare but some long-term care insurance policies cover this kind of care.
Even the lowest of Social Security payments disqualifies most seniors from public assistance such as Medicaid, which would make adult day care a more affordable option.
“Your dad and my mom worked all their lives, paid taxes all their lives, and they don’t qualify for social services. Really?” Vito said. “I get really passionate about this.”
Because the need for services is so great, Vito founded the nonprofit Independent Senior Foundation to fund a limited number of adult day care scholarships. The stated mission of the organization is “to be a champion and voice for the seniors, disabled and their caregivers to ensure quality health care, mobility and social services.”
On June 18, the foundation held the second annual Champions Beyond the Ring fundraising event, Boxers vs. Bosses, at the Red Rock Resort Pavilion Ballroom, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. The event raised approximately $15,000 in scholarships, Vito said.
Sheila Tacey, NADHC director of finance, estimates the cost for a private payer client to be around $70 per day.
The state of Nevada’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program pay $54.48 or $40, respectively, for up to 12 hours of care, which includes two meals and activities.
“I couldn’t bring a teenager into a home to sit for that,” Tacey said. “It’s tough. We have to watch every dollar.”
But for Vito, his wife and staff, it’s about taking care of people, making them happy and keeping them healthy.
“They’ve created a little heaven here,” Sabraw said. “I haven’t met one person here I haven’t liked. (The staff is) always positive, and they all help each other. They bring humor into every day. If (people) are looking for a place for their loved ones, this is a beautiful place.”
Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers
2008 S. Jones Blvd., 702-319-4600
330 N. 13th Street, 702-384-3746
8695 S. Eastern Ave., 702-778-1234