Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

At My Congressman's Office : the debt-ceiling crisis : article 7/31/11

On Tuesday, the day after President Obama gave his explanation for what was going on with the debt-ceiling crisis, and asked people to contact their congressman, I went with others to the Champaign, Illinois office of Timothy Johnson, my representative. No one had been able to get through on the phone lines, and my friends and I thought it was important to do what the president asked of us. We thought it was especially important to show that respect to the president and the office of the presidency because the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has shown it to neither. He's been very Jefferson Davis-like. MoveOn had put out an email saying to come to the office at noon, but when we arrived there were multiple people from other organizations. There were people with disabilities, people who lived on Social Security payments, and some people who had just come down because they couldn't get through on the phone.

To his credit, Timothy Johnson's District Aide, Dennis Graff, invited us in (about 25 people) and said he would listen to us and answer questions. He asked that we not be sarcastic or loud, a request we all welcomed.

Here is the thing about my congressman: he is a Republican, and for most of his 10 years in this office, he has been something of a moderate. He tends to hire competent people, and, in dealing with individual problems, his office is extremely efficient. This is no small thing. I am a Democrat who doesn't always vote a straight ticket, and Tim Johnson was one of the Republicans I occasionally voted for, depending on how he was voting in Washington.

We were at the office to voice our concerns about the debt ceiling, about a possible default, and to urge that Johnson vote for a plan that included raising taxes (or revenues as they are now apparently called) on the corporations and wealthiest Americans.

"That won't happen," Mr. Graff said, "he's signed that guy's pledge."

"Grover Norquist's pledge?"


"Grover Norquist doesn't live in our district. He isn't one of Rep. Johnson's constituents," one of us said.

"But taxpayers are."

We informed him that we were taxpayers too, and we understood the necessity for taxes, we just wanted shared responsibility. Several of us said we had always considered Tim Johnson an independent thinker. Our congressman signing the Grover Norquist pledge was news. We had not thought of our congressman as a radical. We had not thought of our congressman as someone beholden to the Tea Party.

A woman, who identified herself as a kindergarten teacher, read an eloquent letter in which she spoke of her family's tradition of sacrifice for their country from the Revolutionary War through the Iraq War. She spoke of a moral code of shared sacrifice and of not abandoning constituents; she brought out the fact that our congressman had voted for what now amounts to more than a trillion dollars for both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the unfunded mandate of "No Child Left Behind," the bail-outs, and more -- thus helping create the debt he now won't deal with.

People spoke of their concern about relatives and neighbors who were dependent on social security or disability payments. "Everyone will get their checks," Mr. Graff said, and then accused President Obama of scaring senior citizens, but Mr. Graff did not have a concrete answer to how all obligations would be met if we defaulted on our own obligations. Finally he said that we have gold reserves. "Really?" somebody said. "Really? You'd be willing to give up our reserves to protect the wealthiest?"

The word "morality" was mentioned often by multiple people and it didn't really seem to translate. An hour in, what Dennis Graff said was, "what I hear you saying is that you want to soak the rich."

As you can tell, we didn't move anybody by showing up at this office. We were listened to, in that nobody had earplugs on when we were talking. But it was a fake listening; real listening requires a willingness to accept that listening is an active process, which, if done correctly, leads to movement. But we listened to each other, and that was heartening, and we started to exchange contact information -- all these people from various groups -- and this is why I urge people to go to their congressional offices this coming Tuesday at noon. If your country is going to be done in by itself, it is good to be around your fellow concerned Americans.

I called Johnson's office on Friday and ascertained that Timothy Johnson had signed the Norquist pledge so furtively even his press secretary, Phil Bloomer, wasn't aware he had signed it. When I asked Mr. Bloomer about the legality of signing and then upholding a stance on the basis of a private pledge if it interfered with the pledge to the Constitution of the United States, Bloomer said, "We knew there would be problems associated with signing that pledge." Which begs the question about why it was signed, and how our representative stands to benefit from signing and abiding by it. (Our congressman also signed a pledge only to run for two terms, and he had no problem breaking that one.)

"What do you think is going to happen?" I asked Mr. Bloomer. He replied that the Republicans had already done their job and that it might be up to the president to act on his own to save the country from default. "And then we will take it to the courts," he said, "and see if it holds up."

I said I wouldn't even ask him if that's what the Republicans want to have happen because I knew he wouldn't be able to answer me honestly.

He laughed.

## Author, Gale Walden. As posted by Huffpost Politics; July 31 2011

Program formed for children with disabilities : The Southern Illinois Soccer League and Special Olympics Illinois partnership; 2011

The Southern Illinois Soccer League and Special Olympics Illinois are forming a TOPSoccer program for the Southern Illinois region.

TOPSoccer opens up the game of soccer to any boy or girl who has a mental or physical disability.

The program will begin Saturday, Aug. 20. A four-hour clinic will be from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Family Sportsplex in Belleville. Cost for the year-round program will be $25. The cost covers a TOPSoccer T-shirt, registration fee and medal at the end of the season.

Tentatively, the program has outlined its first year. Monthly clinics will be on a Saturday from August to February at a metro-east location. March through June a small-sided game league will be offered. A closing ceremony will be in June.

If you have questions about your athlete and whether the program fits his or her needs, contact Richard Crothers at 406-2727 or Jane Raede at Southern Illinois Soccer League at 558-1553.

Julie Foudy, who won two Olympic gold medals in soccer and was on two Women's World Cup winning teams for the United States, supports the program.

"It brings a sense of accomplishment and sheer joy to kids who otherwise would have to sit on the sidelines," Foudy said in a statement. "Parents can't praise it enough, the siblings enjoy helping and cheering, the kids' laughter and enthusiasm are infectious. In the program, everyone comes away a winner. I hope you'll get involved in TOPSoccer in your community."

# as posted by BND.com, Sunday, July 31, 2011
Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2011/07/31/1805794/program-formed-for-children-with.html#ixzz1TgloxRvA

Mayor Emanuel, Commissioner Tamley Kick-Off Chicago's Accessibility Code Committee

Revisions will make Chicago’s Code Most Progressive in Nation

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Commissioner Karen Tamley of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) kicked off the Chicago Accessibility Code Committee Meeting on the July 26th, the 21st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mayor Emanuel thanked the committee for its commitment to help make Chicago a world-class city for people with disabilities.

“By working together to strengthen our code and make it consistent with the ADA, we will be making our city more accessible for our residents and visitors with disabilities, and making it easier for the architectural and building industries to achieve compliance under all accessibility laws,” said Emanuel.

As part of the Mayor’s goal to make Chicago’s accessibility code the most progressive in the nation, the Accessibility Code Committee will be responsible for reviewing and providing input on drafts of the revised code.

The amendment will achieve the following objectives:

•Modernize it to be consistent with new federal ADA standards
•Update, reinforce and clarify the code

Committee members include leaders in the fields of design, construction, industry, civic and disability policy.

“Our efforts to update and strengthen Chicago's accessibility code reflect the City of Chicago's commitment to upholding the promise of the ADA and to assure our city is fully accessible to our residents and visitors with disabilities,” said Commissioner Tamley.

# # #
For City of Chicago Mayors office for People with Disabilities [MOPD] visit: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mopd.html

DISABILITY RIGHTS MOVEMENT : a retrospective video of the Disability Civil Right Movement

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Well produced that we ran across on YouTube. Uploaded by 0hs0KATESSx3 on Nov 8, 2010

Five Things People with Medicare Should Know : July 28, 2011

Don Berwick, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Posted July 28, 2011

Do you have Medicare? Have questions about what the Affordable Care Act does for you?

Here are the five things people with Medicare should know about the law:

1. It makes prescription drugs more affordable.

If you enter the coverage gap known as the “donut hole,” you will receive a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs. This discount will be automatically applied at the counter of your pharmacy; you don’t have to do anything to get it. And over the next ten years, you will get additional savings until the coverage gap is completely closed in 2020.

2. It gives you preventive care services for free.

If you have Medicare, you can get free preventive screenings and services like colorectal cancer screening and mammograms. You can also get a free yearly wellness visit to develop and update your personal prevention plan based on current health needs. Again, these services are free: no co-pays or cost-sharing for you.

3. It provides incentives for your doctors to work together for you.

The law makes it easier for your doctors to work together by offering them support and resources for patient-centered care. If you’re hospitalized, the new law also helps you return home successfully—and avoid going back—by helping to coordinate your care and connecting you to services and support in your community.

4. It strengthens Medicare Advantage.

If you have Medicare Advantage, you will be protected from large increases to your premiums or decreases in your benefits. Medicare reviews changes to your plan before they happen to stop the ones that are unreasonable. Beginning in 2012, Medicare Advantage plans will have even more reason to improve the quality of care you receive. Plans that have a rating of three stars or more on the quality rating system will receive a bonus, part of the national effort to improve quality.

5. It helps ensure your access to care.

You can still choose your doctor. The law increases the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and physician assistants to provide better access to care through expanded training opportunities, student loan forgiveness, and bonus payments. Support for community health centers will increase, allowing them to serve some 20 million new patients.

For more information, please check out the online brochure, Medicare and the New Health Care Law – What it Means for You. (PDF - 314KB)
ed note: please review any changes for Medicare policies, make sure they are right for you, always protect yourself...

Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago : Windy City Kids Children's Development Center

Windy City Kids Children's Development Center is a high quality, comprehensive and affordable program. Our goals are to provide a full-day child development program for all children regardless of their economic need and to achieve independence, dignity and self-sufficiency in our children.

•Serving children ages six weeks to five years
•Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
•Located in the Harold Washington Social Security Administration Building 600 West Madison, Chicago
•Contracted with the Employee Assistance Program and Harold Washington Social Security Administration to manage their full-day child development program
•State Pre-Kindergarten with Chicago Public Schools
Program Services

•Full Day / Full Year-round Services 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
•Providing Three Meals per Day: Breakfast, Lunch and p.m. Snack
•Inclusive Child Care
•Multi-Purpose Room for Creative Play
•Fostering the Development of Children of Varied Culture, Ethnicities and Abilities
•Staff Specializing in Early Childhood Development and Special Education
•Relationship-Based Services to Children and Their Families
•Tailored to Meet Each Child's Unique Needs
•Each Child Assessed within 30 Days of Enrollment
Program Events

•Computer Learning Centers
•Annual Fundraisers
•Monthly Field Trips
•Bi-Monthly Child Assessments
•Bi-Monthly Parent Meetings
•Fall / Spring Pictures
•Winter / Spring Program
•Annual Graduation
2010 Tuition Rates

Social Security Administration Employee Parents

Infants $230.00 per week
Waddler Room (12 months to 23 months) $185.00 per week
Toddler Room (2 years to 3 years) $182.00 per week
Preschool I (3 years to 4 years) $166.00 per week
Preschool II (4 years to 5 years) $166.00 per week
Preschool III (3 years to 5 years) $166.00 per week

Non-Social Security Federal Employee Parents

Infants $240.00 per week
Waddler Room (12 months to 23 months) $203.00 per week
Toddler Room (2 years to 3 years) $195.00 per week
Preschool I (3 years to 4 years) $181.00 per week
Preschool II (4 years to 5 years) $181.00 per week
Preschool III (3 years to 5 years) $181.00 per week

Non-Federal Employee Parents

Infants $280.00 per week
Waddler Room (12 months to 23 months) $215.00 per week
Toddler Room (2 years to 3 years) $210.00 per week
Preschool I (3 years to 4 years) $189.00 per week
Preschool II (4 years to 5 years) $189.00 per week
Preschool III (3 years to 5 years) $189.00 per week

•Tuition Subject to Change Every Two Years
•Tuition Assistance Available
•We Accept Families that Qualify for Child Care Initiative
•Discounts for Sibling Enrollment

For more information, please contact:
Rita Armstrong, Program Manager
Windy City Kids
Children's Development Center
600 West Madison
Chicago, IL 60661
312-575-6550 Phone
312-575-6551 Fax

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Accessibility : U.S. Access Board Proposes New Guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way—Webinar Aug 9: Comments due Nov 23 2011

On July 26th the U.S. Access Board released for public comment proposed guidelines for accessible public rights-of-way. The guidelines provide design criteria for public streets and sidewalks, including pedestrian access routes, street crossings, curb ramps and blended transitions, on-street parking, street furniture, and other elements. The specifications comprehensively address access that accommodates all types of disabilities, including mobility and vision impairments, while taking into account conditions and constraints that may impact compliance, such as space limitations and terrain, as indicated in an overview of the rule.

"The Board's proposed guidelines are the first of their kind in detailing how public streets and sidewalks can be designed and built to serve all pedestrians, including those with disabilities," notes Nancy Starnes, Chair of the Access Board. "A tremendous amount of work, research, outreach, and input from stakeholders and other interested groups have gone into the making of this proposal, and the Board welcomes and looks forward to additional feedback from the public in making the guidelines final."

The guidelines, once finalized and implemented as standards, will apply to newly constructed or altered portions of public rights-of-way covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They will also apply to public rights-of-way built or altered with funding from the Federal government under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and the Rehabilitation Act. Existing pedestrian networks not undergoing alteration will not be required to meet these requirements. The rights-of-way guidelines complement, and in some areas reference, the Board's ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for buildings and facilities.

The new proposal incorporates public comment the Board received on earlier drafts of the guidelines. While developing these guidelines, the Board has conducted an active outreach and training program to provide needed guidance on the subject in the interim. Under this program, the Board has provided training across the country to various audiences and has met with state and local transportation and public works departments on a regular basis to share information and best practices. In addition, the Board has developed resources, including design guides and checklists, and has sponsored research on detectable warnings, accessible pedestrian signals, and traffic roundabouts.

According to Scott Windley, a Board accessibility specialist involved in this rulemaking, "the training and consultation the Board has provided over the years yielded a two-way flow of information that has been very helpful and instructive in crafting guidelines that are equally responsive to both access needs and to design realities."

The Board held a briefing on the proposed rule on the day it was published and will conduct a public webinar to review the guidelines on August 9. The proposed guidelines can be accessed, and comments to them submitted or viewed, through the Federal government's rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov. Instructions for submitting comments are included in the proposal. The deadline for comments is November 23, 2011. The Board will hold public hearings on the guidelines in Dallas on September 12 and in Washington, D.C. on November 9.

Further information on this rulemaking is available on the rights-of-way homepage or by contacting Scott Windley at row@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0025 (v), or (202) 272-0028 (TTY).

## Access Board Webinar
and Public Hearings

August 9, 12:00 – 1:30 (E)
To register visit:

September 12, 9:30 – 11:30
Sheraton Dallas
San Antonio Ballroom A
400 North Olive Street
Dallas, TX

November 9, 9:30 to 11:30
Access Board Meeting Room
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC

A man born without his right hand is suing the Transportation Security Administration for Discrimination: July 28th 2011

A man born without his right hand is suing the Transportation Security Administration after he believed the agency unfairly rejected him for a job, reports the Associated Press.

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Michael Costantino, 32 and an amateur boxer, applied for a TSA job at New York's LaGuardia Airport about 18 months ago. After clearing a background check, interviewing and passing an initial test whereby applicants pick out weapons on an X-ray screen, Costantino left his interview thinking he'd landed the gig. His missing hand was never brought up, he says.

But, after a medical exam, which the TSA says is conducted by an outside company, Costantino was informed that he was disqualified because of his disability. He has since filed a complaint with the TSA charging the agency with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"They just made an assumption that he can't perform this job simply because he doesn't have a right hand - without any evidence to support it," Costantino's lawyer, Jonathan Bell told the New York Daily News.

Costantino was reportedly never asked to demonstrate his ability to perform tasks an airport screener might be required to do.

According to the Daily News, the TSA charged that Costantino could not conduct patdown searches using his palms or the backs of his hands, nor could he open zippers or snaps, record baggage tag information in logs, inspect pillboxes etc., according to their doctors.

"Anyone that knows me knows it's ridiculous for them to say I can't open luggage," Constantino told the paper. "I've fought in the Golden Gloves. I work out with former world champions. Opening luggage would be pretty easy for me."

The TSA could not comment, but said its rules require job applicants to "possess basic aptitudes and physical abilities, including color perception, visual and aural acuity, physical coordination, and motor skills," according to the AP.

# As posted by AOL Travel: Posted Jul 28th 2011

Illinois’ budget cuts hit home for medical care : July 30 2011

Most people have heard the tune, “Money makes the world go ‘round...” But these days, the state of Illinois’ world isn’t revolving very well.

The state’s newest budget, which began June 30, has made a significant impact on a vareity of local service providers, including McDonough District Hospital, Western Illinois University and Bridgeway.

John Maguire, public relations director at MDH, said the state owes the hospital for state employee health insurance claims. Delayed payments have left the hospital without $2.6 million dollars for services already provided.

It is the largest amount the hospital has ever been without, according to Maguire. Although the hospital has been able to accept late payments, Maguire said some small practices are being forced to reduce staff or close.

Maguire said despite the budget shortfalls, patients are still receiving the care they need.

Western Illinois University is also feeling the budget pinch. Julie DeWees, interim vice president for administrative services, said the state still owes Western over half of $56.2 million promised for fiscal year 2011. Finances for fiscal year 2012 are not expected to show much improvement.

On top of the debt owed to Western, the state has reduced Western’s funding by $644,400 to $55.5 million. In order to combat the cuts, Western now requires upper-level management to authorize purchases over $500 as well as all new hires. The funding is split between WIU’s Macomb and Quad Cities campuses - spreading the money even thinner.

While faculty and staff salaries are not affected, DeWees said the delayed payments make planning, repairs and technology upgrades difficult.

“This hurts not only Western but the economy of Macomb,” DeWees said.

Another Macomb institution feeling budget strains is Bridgeway, an organization that helps individuals with disabilities. The state has cut $900,000 from the company’s budget, which will affect its facilities across the Midwest, including Macomb.

CEO Jim Starnes said this week that Bridgeway will determine its budget next week and will factor in state cuts. He said planning will be difficult, because the state has only guaranteed funding for four months.

As of the beginning of this year, the state mandated that Bridgeway clients can only receive eight state-funded medical visits per year. Although Bridgeway can make appeals for more funding, additional budget resources must be used.

Starnes said Bridgeway’s current funding situation is the worst he’s ever seen. During tough economic times, Bridgeway sees an increase in demand. Unfortunately, this increase in demand comes when state funding is being decreased.

Starnes said cuts at the Macomb office will not be “earth-shattering,” and that services will be maintained.

He said cuts to developmental disability services were made last year and this year has seen a sizable cut in substance abuse programs.

He said Bridgeway is working hard to minimize the impact of the cuts, but Macomb’s Bridgeway is considering some cost-cutting measures. One option is a possible consolidation of staff offices in Macomb. Starnes also said that Bridgeway is hiring fewer people in an effort to reduce its staff.

Starnes said Bridgeway provides services to the sickest and poorest of people. He said while some organizations can raise their rates for services, Bridgeway cannot.

The cuts will force clients to wait longer for medical care, which could leave them at risk for emergency room visits or encounters with law enforcement.

State Senator John Sullivan weighed in on the state budget during his visit to Macomb City Hall earlier this month. This year’s budget was divided among several different committees, which, “allowed so much more input from legislators as to what’s important to them,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan remarked, “To me, personally, education is extremely important. If you can catch children at a young age, their minds are like sponges, you can really make a difference in their lives.”

“We don’t have enough money to do all that we do. We’re trying to make sure the money that we do spend is spent in the most efficient manner that we possibly can. Unfortunately, a lot of the mental health services are not Medicaid matchable,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan is struggling to gain support for a debt restructuring plan that would boost state revenues through bond sales.

“If we don’t do that or some version of that, the only other option we have is to pay those bills when the money becomes available,” he said. “Quite frankly, that’s going to take years and years.”

# As posted by The McDonough County Voice : report By Ryan Hagan
Posted July 30, 2011

Best Buddies International : creates opportunities for development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Best Buddies International

Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide.

Best Buddies programs engage participants in each of the 50 United States, and in 50 countries around the world. Best Buddies’ seven formal programs – Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies, Jobs and Ambassadors – positively impact nearly 700,000 individuals with and without disabilities worldwide.

Best Buddies volunteers annually contribute, at no cost to their communities, support services that equate to more than $164 million USD. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with IDD secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships.

Although Best Buddies has advanced tremendously in its short existence, many areas of the country and many regions of the world still lack programs to help people with IDD become part of mainstream society. With that in mind, Best Buddies is systematically implementing its 2020 Initiative, which will witness the organization’s continued significant growth, both domestically and overseas.

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Uploaded by BestBuddiesInt on Feb 2, 2009

# For Best Buddies please visit: http://www.bestbuddies.org.

Illinois Mental health provider : the state reductions hurt : July 29 2011

When Jennifer, Jake and Jordan Shepard died in a rural Streator fire recently, the ripples were felt throughout the community.

After authorities said the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide and the mother had been under a doctor's care for an undisclosed mental illness, friends, neighbors and strangers were in shock and a state of collective grief.

According to North Central Behavioral Health Services President Don Miskowiec, this is not unusual.

"Everybody feels the effects of mental health problems in the community," Miskowiec told The Times.

Between 2009 and 2011, Illinois cut mental health funding by $113.7 million, or 15.1 percent of its budget, making it the ninth-highest cut state in the country, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

North Central provides mental health and substance abuse services to seven counties, including La Salle, and has 11 service centers, including in La Salle, Ottawa and Streator. The provider has lost $2 million in funding during the last two years. Miskowiec said that figure is significant because one in four people have a mental health or substance use disorder.

The funding cuts have directly impacted people who were paying on a sliding-fee scale either because they didn't make enough money or they didn't have insurance or a job that pays for insurance.

"What happens is we always provide emergency services. Ongoing counseling/therapy we can't do. We do refer to other places when we can, but it's hard to find places that offer sliding fee scales," Miskowiec said. "We serve an average caseload of 2,500 clients per month. We used to serve about 3,000 per month. (This is) primarily due to cuts in funding. We're probably serving about 2,000 fewer clients per year. We used to serve 6,500 to 7,000 (unique) clients per year."

"Myself, I think it's a public health crisis," Miskowiec said. "Many people are being cut out of services, denied services. Mental health services are an essential part of health care."

Miskowiec said when people don't receive needed mental health services, emergency room or jail visits can result. He added that often mental illnesses contribute to physical health problems, all of which can ultimately be more expensive than the services themselves.

"We're seeing a lot of people, but myself and our staff, we still spend a lot of sleepless nights worrying," he said.

State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, whom Miskowiec said has been supportive of the provider's needs despite the state's budgetary crisis, said overall funding cuts notwithstanding, Human Services, which includes funding for Medicaid, developmental disabilities and mental illness, still make up 57 percent of the state's appropriations of revenue. The second is education with 23 percent.

Mautino said the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee decided to place what funding there is for mental health into community health services, like North Central, and to cut back on state-supported mental health hospitals.

"Her priority was to get more money to the community providers," Mautino said. "They're the front-line providers. They provide the direct services."

Neither man is optimistic about the near future for funding improvements.

"I think the trend is not good at all," Miskowiec said. "I think we're going to struggle with this for years to come."

Mautino said it will be at least three to four years before the state's budget crisis improves. However, he said Human Services would continue to receive 57 percent of all revenue.

"It will remain a priority," he said. "That's the format we adopted."

# As posted by Daily-Journal.com; report by Jerrilyn Zavada, 07/29/2011

CNN Heroes : A 'Dear Abby' for the down and out: A open heart for people with disabilities 2011

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Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (CNN) -- For years, Jennifer Cervantes struggled to make ends meet.

She worked 30 hours a week at Wal-Mart, but her paycheck -- along with child support and disability payments -- never seemed to cover living expenses for her and her five kids. Despite her best efforts, she kept falling further behind.

"Paying the rent, electric and gas -- it takes everything I have," she said. "I don't like digging up change ... so I can buy the kids' food. I needed help somehow, somewhere."

Desperate, Cervantes decided to write a letter to Sal Dimiceli, whose newspaper column might be considered a "Dear Abby" for the down and out.

Within a few weeks, Dimiceli showed up on her doorstep. They talked for a while, and then he offered to pay one month's rent as well as her outstanding gas and electric bills. He also went to the local grocery store and stocked the family's empty refrigerator.

"I was shocked," Cervantes said. "I feel relieved. The kids are getting tired of macaroni cheese and Ramen soup every night."

It was just another day's work for Dimiceli, a 60-year-old real estate broker whose weekly column in the Lake Geneva Regional News focuses on people in dire straits. Through his column and his nonprofit, The Time Is Now To Help, Dimiceli has provided about 500 people a year with food, rent, utilities and other necessities.

"I'm just addicted to helping," he said. "I don't have time to go to the show or golf. ... My fondness in life is helping my fellow Americans."

Dimiceli gets about 20 to 30 letters a week from people in the Lake Geneva area, and he investigates nearly all of them himself. He'll often visit people's homes to verify their circumstances. If someone appears to have a drug or alcohol problem, he refers them to other programs. And to make sure people are being honest about their situation, he'll open their cupboards to see how much food is in the house.

"I do not want to give a hard-earned dollar to someone who is taking advantage," he said. "But once I verify that their need is genuine, my heart opens right up."

At that point, Dimiceli springs into action with his unique safety net. He'll start by meeting immediate needs, perhaps providing a hot meal or moving someone without heat into a warm motel room. Within a day or two, he'll take care of other basics, like paying overdue rent or turning on utilities. His rapid response is a point of personal pride.

"There's not any bureaucratic red tape, " he said. "I want to help people now."

But Dimiceli doesn't stop there. He also goes over each recipient's budget and finds ways to stabilize their long-term situation -- maybe negotiating lower rent with their landlords, repairing their car or tapping his network of supporters to help find them a job.

"It's not just a Band-Aid to feed them for that day," Dimiceli said. "We get them back on a track (so) that ... their pride is given back to them. They can catch up."

It's a level of personalized assistance that's almost hard to believe, but there are countless stories of Dimiceli's good works throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. The vast majority of people he helps are never even mentioned in his column.

For nearly a year, Val and Al Hyner had been unemployed, using their savings to pay for a small motel room. With almost no money left, Val pawned her jewelry, including her wedding ring.

Dimiceli showed up and helped the couple with gas cards and rent. And when he heard about Val's sacrifice, he dipped into his own pocket and made arrangements to get the ring back.

"Those that are in dire need, they'll sell all their personal belongings to survive," he said. "I want to give them their self-esteem back. ... They need to hang onto parts of their life, and sentimental things are very important."

Such stories have become commonplace during the hard economic times of the past few years, and Dimiceli has been flooded with requests for help, even as his real estate business has taken a huge hit. He still gives away at least 20% of his income -- he estimates that he has given away a few million dollars of his own money over the years -- but in the last decade he has begun to rely more on donations to his nonprofit, which he started in 1989. He has also built a strong network of supporters to help him, along with his wife and four children.

"The movement has grown," he said. "As fellow Americans, we're all together, helping each other. That's what it's all about."

Dimiceli is passionate about helping others because he knows what it's like to be poor. Born on the West Side of Chicago to a beautician and a tool-and-die maker, he said his family struggled because of his father's gambling habit.

"We moved like gypsies, being evicted a lot," he said. "I know how it feels to watch your mother cry when the electricity is turned off and you have no food. ... It was hard."

When Dimiceli was 12, he got a job as a dishwasher so he could help out at home. Grateful, he promised God that if he ever became successful, he'd always help others in need. He has spent nearly all of his adult life making good on that vow.

After he first found success as a rock concert promoter in the 1970s, Dimiceli began to give money to various charities. But when he realized that much of their money was spent on overhead, he decided he could do a better job himself and started helping people on his own around the Chicago area. He eventually started his nonprofit, vowing that every penny would go to help others.

Dimiceli's philanthropy has gone through various phases. In the 1990s, he took an entire community in Illinois under his wing. But for the last decade or so, he has concentrated most of his work in the Wisconsin area where he now lives.

Eight years ago, he was approached by a neighbor who knew about his work and asked him to write a column in the local paper. He agreed do it anonymously, adopting a pen name, W.C., to stand for With Christ. In recent years, he was persuaded to reveal his identity so that people would be encouraged to donate to his foundation. His column has become so popular that it now appears in a number of area papers.

Dimiceli says that when he sees a pile of new letters, he gets anxious thinking about all of the people who need his help. He'll often work late into the night doing "marathons of helping" that leave him physically and emotionally exhausted. But every morning, he can't wait to start again.

"When people are in need, they often feel alone," he said. "I want them to know someone cares about them. I want to (say): 'Come on, I have a little extra strength I want to share with you. Let's get you back on your feet.' "

Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2011 CNN Heroes
please visit:

"Wretches & Jabberers" : Video Stories From The Road | Chapter Seven 2011

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"Lightning Rods": Larry, Tracy, Harvey & Pascal take to the road to promote the new documentary "Wretches & Jabberers" by Gerardine Wurzburg. The gang meets up with Stephen Kuusisto, author of "Planet of the Blind". He interviews Larry and Tracy about the journey they took while making "Wretches & Jabberers" and shares a few insights of his own about his disability.

For more information about the "Wretches & Jabberers" tour, to sign up for our newsletter or see extra footage from the film, follow us on Facebook at "Wretches & Jabberers" or visit our website: wretchesandjabberers.org!

See you on the road!!

# Every Sat another post of ths 13 Chapter video series.
For Official Movie wedsite visit: http://www.wretchesandjabberers.org/ontheroad.php

Friday, July 29, 2011

‘R’ word sensitivity language signed into law in Illinois

PALATINE, IL – A new law sponsored by State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) will eliminate outdated and degrading terminology used to refer to people with mental disabilities from legal books in the state of Illinois.

Read more from the Daily Herald's Mike Riopell : Posted July 29 2011

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois' law books will soon be free of some terminology offensive to the disabled as part of a plan pushed by a Palatine-based attorney and signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday.

Attorney Kerry Lavelle has said he asked Sen. Matt Murphy to carry the legislation because certain off-color terms for the disabled leave him “fuming.”

His sister, Shannon, has a disability and resides at Mount St. Joseph, an immediate care facility in Lake Zurich.

The new law removes from state statute books phrases like “mentally retarded” and substitutes “intellectually disabled.” Similarly, it replaces “crippled” with “physically disabled.”

Talking about the plan earlier this year, Lavelle said changing the law books was just one step toward trying to eliminate the terms throughout language.

“These are two very archaic, bad, nondescriptive words,” he said then.

Quinn signed the plan into law Thursday along with dozens of other proposals.

“Language is one of our most important tools, and we must be aware of how the words we choose impact others,” Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson said. “Just as words that denigrate and marginalize others should not be used in daily conversations, they should not be used in our laws.”

Murphy, a Palatine Republican who sponsored the plan in the Senate, said he was glad to hear Quinn signed off.

“These are the laws of all the people of Illinois,” he said.

The idea behind the 623-page piece of legislation isn't unique to Illinois. Several states have already made similar changes.

Last year, President Barack Obama signed “Rosa's Law” to remove similar terms from federal law.


U.S. House Passes Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase : Social Security Checks maybe : July 29, 2011

UPDATED : Senate kills latest House debt measure
By The Associated Press - Associated Press July 29 2011

..WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has killed the latest effort by the House to raise the government's borrowing cap.

Democrats and several Republicans killed the GOP measure by a 59-41 vote Friday night, just minutes after it arrived from the House. Democrats opposed the measure because it would require another painful debt-limit debate early next year.

The move continues a standoff over the debt limit but could set the table for negotiations this weekend on compromise legislation that could pass the Democratic Senate and the GOP-controlled House before an Aug. 2 deadline to prevent a potentially disastrous default on U.S. obligations like interest payments and Social Security checks.

The measure would have immediately lifted the government's borrowing cap by $900 billion. It barely squeaked through the House.

The House of Representatives on Friday approved a plan for a short-term increase in the debt ceiling and cuts in spending, ending a week of intense fighting among Republicans and shifting the end game of the debate to the Senate.

The vote was 218-210, leaving House Speaker John A. Boehner with 22 Republicans who were unwilling to support his efforts to get a bill approved.

Urging passage for the bill, an emotional Mr. Boehner angrily accused President Obama and his Democratic allies of negotiating in bad faith for weeks and called the bill the only way to “end this crisis now.”

“All they would do was criticize what I put out there,” Mr. Boehner said, his voice rising during a rare appearance on the floor. “I stuck my neck out a mile to get an agreement with the president of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile. I put revenues on the table.”

He added: “A lot of people in this town can never say yes.”

Democrats in the House sought to embarrass the Republican majority by amending Mr. Boehner’s legislation to require that any deficit reduction be done first by closing tax subsidies for oil companies and corporate jet owners. The amendment was quickly rejected by the Republican majority.

“We face a self-inflicted crisis and the majority’s solution is no solution at all,” Representative Louise Slaughter of New York said during debate before the bill passed.

Even as it passed, the Democrat-controlled Senate prepared to kill the legislation within hours. Earlier on Friday, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York called Mr. Boehner’s legislation an “absurd, absurd proposition.”

Mr. Boehner earned raucous applause from his Republican conference despite days of resistance from some of his most conservative members tied his legislative strategy in knots. Mr. Boehner won over enough opponents by amending his legislation to require passage of a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling could be increased next year.

In his remarks, Mr. Boehner called the measure imperfect, but accused Mr. Obama and the Democrats in the Senate of failing to produce a competing plan to address the debt crisis.

“To the American people, I would say: we tried our level best,” Mr. Boehner said. “We have tried to do our best for our country, but some people still say no.”

As posted by The New York Times By MICHAEL D. SHEAR July 29, 2011,

MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation program at Hinsdale, Ill. Aug. 01 2011

Hinsdale, Ill. — MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation obtains, trains and provides service dogs for children and adults with physical disabilities free of charge. The public is invited to attend the group’s Help Our Dogs Change People’s Lives 4 Paws At A Time event from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1, in The Community House, 415 W. Eighth St., Hinsdale.

They will meet trainers and handlers and be able to help them train dogs ranging from Labrador Retriever puppies Krush and Champ to 1-year-olds Oskee Bow Wow and Pilot, all of whom are being trained by the group’s Illini Dog Training Program. A fully trained service dog is valued at $25,000.

Illini Service Dog Training, a program of MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation, is the first of its kind in the nation. It is made up of dedicated teams of University of Illinois students who foster and train the service dogs, while gaining knowledge of disability culture and rights.

Guests will meet Saint and Sheba, Labrador retriever/Weimaraner mixes, who know more than 100 commands, and were trained by Helping Paws Service Dog Training at the Dwight Correction Center.

The program will outline how people with disabilities are paired with a service dog and how they become an amazing team. Attendees will see the working relationship and emotional bond that develop between people with disabilities and trained service dogs.

“We encourage all that attend to help train our dogs during the session, because we believe that the only way to truly understand what it is like is to have a leash in your hand, and see for yourself how our dogs are Changing People’s Lives 4 Paws At A Time,” say program coordinators for MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation, an Illinois nonprofit organization.

# As posted by Hinsdale Suburban Life Posted July 29, 2011

# For MidAmerica Service Dogs’ Foundation Visit:

Children with Disabilities are bullied more, fare poorly at school : article July 27, 2011

Many 'special needs' kids who struggle with medical, emotional or behavioral issues often face tough social and academic troubles in school, a new study suggests.

Tracking the progress of more than 1,450 students in fourth through sixth grades from 34 rural schools, U.S. researchers found that one-third coped with special health care needs such as asthma, chronic pain, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, or emotional or behavioral problems.

These children, from three large school districts in Maryland and West Virginia, were also more likely to be bullied or feel socially isolated in their school, and to be more disruptive in class, according to the cross-sectional study, published in the July 25 issue of Pediatrics.

"Health affects school performance," noted study co-author Dr. Christopher B. Forrest, a professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Special health care needs have manifold effects on school outcomes that increase the likelihood that these kids are not going to successfully transition to adulthood."

For the study, Forrest and his colleagues obtained survey data from students and their parents, who completed a screening questionnaire measuring long-term health problems that require health services or cause functional problems. Children were classified as having a special health care need if they had a condition lasting at least 12 months and needed interventions such as prescription medication, therapy, counseling or other medical, mental health or educational services.

Additionally, school records were measured for attendance, grades and standardized achievement test scores.

Forrest said the finding that one of every three students had a special need was high -- greater than a 2003 national survey indicating 20 percent of children aged 6 to 17 had such conditions. But he added that some of the problems stemming from chronic conditions do tend to peak in the ages he and his team studied. Boys were twice as likely to have a special health care need as girls, the study found.

But the overall findings from the study were disheartening, Forrest said. Kids with special health care needs "have significant differences in their engagement in school and their school relationships, as well as academic achievement," he said. "It sets up a trajectory for these kids that's highly distressing."

The high proportion of low-income families living in the three districts studied could have contributed to the study results, Forrest noted, because higher-income schools may have more programs in place to help kids adjust to special needs before fourth grade.

"It's not a national study," he said. "Some communities may have better resources than others."

James Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities in New York City, praised the study, saying it "looked at the whole child."

"It certainly clarifies that learning disabilities, once again, are shown to have a demonstrable effect on children's achievement in school," Wendorf said. "We know that students with learning disabilities . . . have very distinct social and emotional challenges that can lead them into difficult situations. We also know many of these things intensify as children grow older."

And because the study used a cross-sectional design, Forrest said he was unable to rule out reverse causation -- that children with poor school outcomes may also be more likely to be labeled as having a special health care need.

Because the problems linked to these special needs can't be qualified as only health- or education-related, Forrest also questioned how communities can bring both systems together when each is funded by a separate stream of finances.

"I also believe it's the kind of challenge we're starting to understand in the 21st century," he said. "We have to look at the child as a whole person . . . and recognize that individuals need health systems and education systems to work together."

As reported by: HealthDay Reporter By Maureen Salamon July 27, 2011

More information :
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has more about school school services for special needs children at: http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/services_in_school_for_children_with_special_needs_what_parents_need_to_know

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago : info, resources...

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Uploaded by unitedwaychicago on May 20, 2010

United Way focuses on the key issue areas that help people become self-sufficient: Education, Income, Health, along with support in a safety net of services to meet people’s basic needs. Our Building Blocks to Independence, below, maps our theory of change across the system.

# For United Way of Metropolitan Chicago click headline or visit: http://www.uw-mc.org/

El Hogar Del Nino: Chicago, comprehensive bilingual/bicultural early childhood development programs: 2011

El Hogar de Nino : The Home of The Child

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video report ABC 7 Chicago


The agency’s primary mission is to provide and demonstrate comprehensive bilingual/bicultural early childhood development programs for infants, preschool, school-age children and their families. El Hogar seeks to meet the needs of the entire family so that children can develop in environments that are culturally, emotionally, psychologically, socially, and financially strong.


El Hogar del Niño/The Home of the Child was founded out of a local church basement in 1972 by various community members who sought to develop the first bilingual school and affordable daycare in the predominantly Latino communities of Pilsen and Little Village in Chicago. El Hogar del Niño was formally established as a research and demonstration project of the Office of Child Development (Department of Health, Education and Welfare.)

For 38 years, the mission of El Hogar del Niño continues to be one which is for and about children—assessing their needs and finding ways to meet those needs. Currently, the organization serves over 300 children through its toddler, head start, early head start, day care, preschool, early childhood development and after school programs. Parents receive early childhood parenting and development education as well as medical services, and the entire family benefits from a comprehensive network of services including employment, education and health. In addition, the Family Case Management program serves eligible pregnant women, infants, and children.

Contact us:

1710-18 S. Loomis St.
Chicago, Illinois 60608
(312) 563-0644 or (312) 733-5584 (phone)
312) 733-6108 (fax)

# For El Hogar click headline or visit: http://www.elhogardelnino.org/

DailyStrength : Online Support Groups : over 500 support groups available

Welcome to the support you've been looking for. Browse our +500 communities of people facing similar life challenges, medical conditions, and mental health issues and find people who understand exactly what you're going through.

Free Online Support Groups at DailyStrength. Meet others going through the same challenges you are, including parenting issues, mental health, Addiction, Uterine Cancer Support Group, Heart, Blood & Circulation, plus many (500) more...

#For Daily Strength click headline or visit: http://www.dailystrength.org/support-groups

Illinois Therapist charged with false billing to DCFS for sessions that never occurred.July 28, 2011

A family therapist sent false bills to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for services she never provided, the Cook County State’s Attorney's office said today.

Priscilla Davis, 39, of Dolton was arrested Thursday morning and charged with theft of government property and attempted theft of government property. If convicted, Davis faces a maximum prison sentence of 7 years, according to the office.

Davis worked at Ascend Inc. as a therapist providing counseling services in adoption and guardianship relationships, and billed DCFS for services to a young girl from March of 2008 until June the following year, prosecutors said.

Investigators said Davis continued billing DCFS for another year even though she was no longer providing services, and eventually asked for a total of $9,373 for sessions that never occurred.

Bail was set at $90,000 for Davis this afternoon before cook County Circuit Court Judge Peggy Chiampas, and her case was continued to Aug. 18, according to the state's attorney's office.

# as posted Chicago Tribune July 28, 2011

Best Hospitals 2011-12: the Honor Roll : U.S. News article

Best Hospitals 2011-12: the Honor Roll

A place on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll is reserved for medical centers that demonstrate unusually high expertise across multiple specialties, scoring at or near the top in at least six of 16 specialties. Just 17 of the nearly 5,000 hospitals evaluated for the 2011-12 rankings qualified. Hospitals with the highest scores in a given specialty received 2 Honor Roll points; those with slightly lower scores received 1 point.* Honor Roll standing was determined by the total number of Honor Roll points across all 16 specialties.

Rank Hospital Points Specialties
1 Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore 30 15
2 Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 29 15
3 Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. 28 15
4 Cleveland Clinic 26 13
5 Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles 25 14
6 New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, N.Y. 22 12
7 UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco 20 11
8 Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston 18 12
9 Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C. 18 10
10 Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 17 12
11 Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St. Louis 16 11
12 UPMC-University of Pittsburgh Medical Center 14 8
13 University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle 13 9
14 University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor 10 6
14 Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville 10 6
16 Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York 8 6
17 Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, Calif. 7 6
* 2 points for scores 4 or more standard deviations above the mean, 1 point for scores from 3 to 4 standard deviations above the mean.

For clinical excellence, these 17 hospitals possess a rare blend of breadth and depth

A place on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll is reserved for medical centers that demonstrate unusually high expertise across multiple specialties, scoring at or near the top in at least six of 16 specialties. Just 17 of the nearly 5,000 hospitals evaluated for the 2011-12 rankings qualified. Hospitals with the highest scores in a given specialty received 2 Honor Roll points; those with slightly lower scores received 1 point.* Honor Roll standing was determined by the total number of Honor Roll points across all 16 specialties.

The Methodology

Our intent when we published the first Best Hospitals annual rankings in 1990 was to help people who find themselves in need of unusually skilled inpatient care, and that mission hasn't changed in Year 22. The Best Hospitals rankings judge medical centers on their competence in exactly such high-stakes situations. For example, a hospital ranked in cardiology and heart surgery—one of 16 specialties in which centers were evaluated—likely has the expertise and experience to replace a faulty heart valve in a man in his 90s. Most hospitals would decline to perform major surgery on elderly patients, as they should if they aren't up to speed on the special techniques and precautions required and don't see many such patients. A ranked hospital in gastroenterology can probably offer the most appropriate care to a patient whose inflammatory bowel disease flares up. At hospitals ranked in neurology and neurosurgery, surgeons face more spinal tumors in a couple of weeks than most community hospitals see in a year.

By contrast, other hospital ratings and rankings for the most part examine how well hospitals treat relatively unthreatening conditions or perform fairly routine procedures, such as hernia repair and uncomplicated heart bypass surgery. The majority of hospital patients need such ordinary care, so for them that approach to evaluating hospitals works fine. But it falls short for patients who are especially at risk because of age, physical condition, infirmities, or the challenging nature of the surgery or other care they need.

A good way to determine how well a hospital deals with a medical challenge is to evaluate its performance across a range of challenges within the specialty. U.S. News ranks hospitals in 16 different specialties, from cancer to urology. This year, only 140 of the 4,825 hospitals that we evaluated performed well enough to rank in even one specialty. And of the 140, just 17 qualified for a spot on the Honor Roll by ranking at or near the top in six or more specialties.

In 12 of the 16 areas, whether and how high a hospital is ranked depended largely on hard data, much of which comes from the federal government. Many categories of data went into the rankings. Some are self-evident, such as death rates. Others, such as the number of patients and the balance of nurses and patients, are less obvious. A survey of physicians, who are asked to name hospitals they consider tops in their specialty, produces a reputation score that is also factored in.

Hospitals in the four remaining specialties—ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation, and rheumatology—were ranked solely based on their reputation among specialists. Most of the care in these specialties is delivered on an outpatient basis, and so few patients die that mortality data, which carry heavy weight in the 12 other specialties, mean little.

To be in the running for a ranking in any of the 12 data-driven specialties, a hospital had to meet any of four criteria: It could be a teaching hospital, it could be affiliated with a medical school, it could have at least 200 beds, or it could have at least 100 beds plus four or more of eight key medical technologies, such as a PET/CT scanner and certain precise radiation therapies. This year, 2,196 hospitals, or 46 percent of the initial number, met that test.

Eligibility in a particular specialty required hospitals to meet a volume requirement. The threshold was a specific number of Medicare inpatients, different for each specialty, who were discharged in 2007, 2008, and 2009 (the three most recent years for which data are available), based on a defined set of specialty-related procedures and conditions. The minimum number of cancer discharges, for example, was 254, of which 48 had to have been surgery patients; in neurology and neurosurgery the corresponding numbers were 341 total and 86 surgical. A hospital that fell short still could make it through the gate if nominated by at least 1 percent of the physicians in a specialty who responded to the 2009, 2010, and 2011 reputational surveys. That left 1,879 hospitals eligible in at least one specialty. But only slightly more than 7 percent of them performed well enough to be ranked in any specialty.

In each specialty in which a hospital was a candidate, it received a U.S. News Score from 0 to 100 that was based on four elements: reputation, patient survival, patient safety, and care-related factors such as nursing and patient services. The 50 top performers were then ranked. Scores and data for all qualifying hospitals in each specialty are also posted. (Use of electronic health records did not factor into any specialty ranking. But see our separate list of Most Connected Hospitals.) The four elements and their weightings, in brief:

Survival score (32.5 percent). A hospital's success at keeping patients alive was judged by comparing the number of Medicare inpatients with certain conditions who died within 30 days of admission in 2007, 2008, and 2009 with the number expected to die given the severity of illness. Hospitals were scored from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the highest survival rate relative to other hospitals and 1 the lowest rate. A software program used by many researchers in the field, 3M Health Information Systems MS-DRG Grouper, took each patient's condition into account.

Patient safety score (5 percent). Harmful blunders occur at every hospital; this score reflects how hard a hospital works to prevent six of the most egregious types. A 3 puts a hospital among the 25 percent of those that were best in this regard, a 2 in the middle 50 percent, and a 1 in the lowest 25 percent. Examples of the six kinds of medical episodes factored in are deaths of patients whose conditions should not have put them at significant risk and surgical incisions that reopen.

Reputation (32.5 percent). Each year, 200 physicians per specialty are randomly selected and asked to list hospitals they consider to be the best in their specialty for complex or difficult cases. A hospital's reputational score is based on the total percentage of specialists in 2009, 2010, and 2011 who named the hospital. This year some physicians were asked to list up to five hospitals, the rest to list up to 10.

Other care-related indicators (30 percent). These include nurse staffing, technology, and other measures related to quality of care. The American Hospital Association's 2009 survey of all hospitals in the nation was the main source.

In the rankings based only on reputation, hospitals were listed on the basis of responses to the most recent three years of physician surveys. Ranked hospitals were cited by at least 5 percent of responding physicians.

The rankings were produced for U.S. News by RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Be sure to add your own fact-gathering to ours; no hospital is best for every patient.

# For U S News Best Hospitals 2011-12: the Honor Roll visit: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/best-hospitals/articles/2011/07/18/best-hospitals-2011-12-the-honor-roll

People with disabilities face challenges in finding a home in Illinois : article from 2008

Amy Walker was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 3 years old.

She grew up at home in Watseka, Ill. and was cared for by her parents. Walker, who is now 28, has been told that not too long ago doctors would have probably advised her parents to send her to live in a state institution.

Walker lives in her own apartment in Decatur, Ill., and works for Illinois Voices, a self-advocacy initiative for people with developmental disabilities funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Walker advocates for people with developmental disabilities to have access to community-based housing.

“Everyone deserves an equal chance to be a part of their community and not to be separated or segregated,” Walker said.

However gaining access to community-based housing in Illinois is not so easy a proposition.

Illinois dead last

Illinois ranks last, or 51st among the states and the District of Columbia, in the number of people with intellectually and developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in community-based housing of six persons or fewer. This ranking comes from a 2008 University of Colorado report, The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities.

The ranking is telling of a state that has chosen to maintain large institutional settings for its citizens with I/DD, creating frustration for advocates of community-based living.

Ellen Garber Bronfeld is one such advocate. Her son, Noah, 22, who has autism, lives on the North Shore and works part-time at the Northbrook branch of the Anixter Center, a non-profit agency that provides services to people with disabilities.

“When I look at Noah, I think to myself, why would I want him to be in a large institutional setting?” Bronfeld said. “Living with roommates not of his choice … and being protected all his life in a way that violates his ability to access the community.”

Community-based and institutional housing are fundamentally opposite living environments. Where institutions are more of a hospital setting in which residents are generally segregated from those without disabilities, community-based living is a community-integrated setting that strives for disabled individuals to have non-disabled neighbors.

Those who support institutional care say it’s the best option for some, especially those with extensive medical needs or behavioral issues because at institutions, resources are concentrated and staff is readily available 24 hours-a-day.

However for those like Bronfeld, institutional-based care is fundamentally a form of segregation that violates human rights principles and should not be a part of Illinois’ system of caring for people with I/DD, advocates say.

For decades, the national trend of housing options for people with I/DD has been heading in the direction of community-based living. According to the University of Colorado report, the number of people living in state-operated institutions peaked in 1967 with 194,650 individuals living in 165 state facilities. Since then, the number of people in these state facilities has decreased by an average of four percent per year.

The report indicated that the following states no longer run state-operated institutions: Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. The District of Columbia has also closed down all of its state-operated institutions.

New Jersey, which ranked 41st in the report, has decided to take an active role in offering community-based living options for every individual who requests it.

The New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities released in May 2007 an Olmstead Plan known as “Path to Progress.” in which they outlined how they will transition individuals from state-operated developmental centers to the community by 2015. Olmstead refers to the 1999 Supreme Court case which held that states must place disabled people in community settings if that placement is appropriate and a less restrictive setting for the affected individual.

In Illinois, 14,406 individuals with I/DD residing in out-of-home residential settings live in facilities with seven or more beds. That is 40 percent higher than the national average, according to the University of Colorado report. There are nine state-operated developmental centers in Illinois, where more than 2,700 residents lived in 2006. These residents are cared for by approximately 4,500 state employees.

The shift to community-based settings

Despite the large percentage of people living in an institutional setting, the state is moving away from a reliance on institutional care.

“People aren’t just going into [state-operated developmental centers] anymore,” said Krescene Beck, project coordinator of Illinois Voices. “You have to have very significant behavioral issues. You have to be a danger to yourself or others on an extreme basis.”

This year the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, a state agency geared towards addressing the needs of people with I/DD, released the Blueprint for System Redesign, a report that strategizes on how to improve the quality of life for people with I/DD in Illinois. The report was assembled by the Human Services Research Institute, a non-profit organization that aids government agencies in providing services for people with developmental, physical and mental disabilities.

The blueprint calls for significant changes in Illinois by 2014. Some of these changes include the support of 2,300 additional individuals in community-based living, the downsizing of the number of state-operated facilities from nine to three, and expanding community support for those with severe behavior challenges and medical needs.

Marielle Sainvilus, communication manager for the Illinois Department of Human Services, said the department is considering the blueprint recommendations, but has not made any official decisions on implementing them.

The national push for community integration of people with I/DD emerged out of a convergence of movements during the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to Glenn T. Fujiura, associate professor in the department of disability and human development at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What Fujiura called the “perfect storm of events” included innovative European models of care for people with disabilities that were based on human rights, the activism of parents whose children with disabilities were being denied access to education, and the civil rights movement which was premised on equality for every individual.

“There was an increasing understanding that the physical segregation of a whole class of people was simply wrong on a number of levels,” Fujiura said. He added it was during this period that the state policies shifted towards moving people with I/DD out of big isolated facilities and into the community.

Litigation for change

Those who support community-based care are taking legal action to hold the states accountable for its lack of community-based living. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and other legal organizations are representing plaintiffs in three class-action suits, Ligas v. Maram, Williams v. Blagojevich and Colbert v. Blagojevich to defend the constitutional rights of people with I/DD, mental illnesses and physical disabilities to have access to community-based care.

Their legal argument relies on the Supreme Court Olmstead decision, in which Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, two women with developmental disabilities and psychiatric conditions, brought a case against the state of Atlanta for failing to put them in community-based care after treatment professionals concluded that both women were capable of functioning in such an environment. The basis for their suit came out of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990, which calls for the most integrated of settings for people with disabilities. The Supreme Court ruled that unnecessary institutional care is considered discrimination and the state could not defend keeping people with disabilities in institutions due to lack of funding.

Ligas v. Maram was filed by nine people with I/DD, either living in state institutions or at risk of being sent to live in such facilities, who were denied requests to live in the community. Williams v. Blagojevich was filed by two individuals with mental illnesses who were forced to live in nursing homes in Chicago, despite expressing a desire to live in the community. Both cases were filed in 2005.

The most recent case, Colbert v. Blagojevich was filed by five individuals with physical disabilities who live in nursing homes and were also denied access to live in the community. In an Equip for Equality press release from August 2007, one of the plaintiffs in the case, Lenil Colbert, described his experience living in a nursing home.

“I have to eat when they tell me to,” Colbert said. “I have to go to bed when they say it's time and I can't visit my family and friends without permission.”

Following the money

Financial support for people with developmental disabilities in the United States is handled by the government, mostly through Medicaid funds. In 2006, Illinois spent $819.7 million serving people with I/DD, or 54 percent of the total cost of services for people with I/DD. The federal government spent $668 million, or 44 percent of the total cost. Local governments spent $28.6 million, or the remaining two percent.

For an Illinois resident with I/DD, the first step to accessing funding for housing and day services is filling out a Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services, or PUNS, form. A state employee assesses the needs of the individual and takes the next steps in providing them services. The common predicament for those who want access to community-based living is being put on a waiting list, with a wait time as long as 10 years for some, due to lack of spaces in community-living settings.

The state offers two main types of community-based housing options: Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled (ICF/DD) and Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA), which are generally smaller-sized facilities. In Illinois, it costs about $50,800 yearly to support an individual living in an ICF/DD and about $46,000 to support someone living in a CILA.

In comparison, the cost to support an individual in a state-operated institution is about $130,007 a year. The lower cost of care per individual for those who live in community-based housing is an argument that advocates use in support of shifting services for people with I/DD to the community entirely.

The main reason for the cost difference is that those who live in institutions generally need more intensive medical care. Another reason is the salary difference of employees of state-operated facilities and those who work at community-based facilities.

Beck of Illinois Voices said that in Southern Illinois, entry-level employees at state-operated facilities make an average of $10 an hour, while those who work in community-based settings make about $7.50 an hour.

Despite the lower cost of care per individual living in a community-based setting, there are major sustainability problems for community-based care providers due to insufficient funding from the state, according to Beck. This is in part due to the state not accounting for increases in the cost of living due to inflation when allocating money foir community-based care, she noted.

“I have known [community] agencies that have gone up to the governor or gone up to someone at the Department of Human Services and said here’s the keys, [the facility is] all yours,” Beck said.“I don’t hear of those types of things happening in a state-operated facility.”

Beck said that agencies regularly complain that they do not have enough money to pay staff and provide adequate services for individuals living at their facility.

One way to increase funding for community-based housing is to close Howe Developmental Center, a state-operated facility in Tinley Park that serves over 400 residents. Howe was decertified in April 2007 because of reports of substandard basic care for its residents. The state has kept Howe open and must cover the approximately $30 million of federal funding with state money.

Tony Paulauski, executive director of the ARC of Illinois, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities, travels to Springfield often to put pressure on the legislature to allocate more state funding for people with I/DD in Illinois, especially for an increase in community-based housing and services.

The 2009 state budget that was recently passed included increased funding for community-based housing costs. One example is a fifty cent increase for non-executive staff providing services for people with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses in the community. Paulauski called the budget increase as well as the $7 million that is to be allocated for transitioning those who want community-based care off of waiting lists “good news.”

However, whether or not this funding will survive depends on how the governor and the legislature work out their differences in what the governor has said is a $2.1 billion budget imbalance.

Community-based activism

Groups that advocate on behalf of people with developmental disabilities, such as the Arc of Illinois, play an important role in educating Illinois legislators on the needs of the disabled population. Recently, people with disabilities themselves are participating in political activism work to advocate for their own needs.

Dan Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, coordinator of grassroots advocacy at the Anixter Center, has been working with people with disabilities to help facilitate their involvement in such political work for the past two years. He said people with disabilities can make a unique contribution as self-advocates that others cannot.

“You’re always going to have more enlightened policies if you include the group of people that you are making policies for because you’re addressing what they actually want and need,” Birkhahn-Rommelfanger said.

Part of his job at the Anixter Center is helping people with disabilities understand the issues that affect their daily lives. Another part is giving people who are ready to advocate an opportunity to do so, which mostly takes place at town hall meetings to which Illinois legislators are invited.

Sharon Cosgrove, 51, and Josie Wilson, 41, who both live in Anixter Center apartments in Chicago, are among the group of self-advocates that Birkhahn-Rommelfanger has been working with. Cosgrove and Wilson each support community-based living because of their personal experiences living in state-run institutions.

When she was 16, Wilson’s parents placed her at Chicago Read Mental Health Center, where she said workers tied people down to their bed when a resident had a discipline problem. She also described being on heavy doses of medication during most of her time at Read.

“They would shoot me up with medicine and I didn’t know if I was coming or going,” Wilson recalled.

Cosgrove had a similar experience while also living at Read. Birkhahn-Rommelfanger said that Cosgrove’s political activism was sparked after a town hall meeting at which Senate Majority Caucus Whip Donne Trotter (D-17th District) was present. At the meeting Cosgrove discovered that Trotter, who expressed support for the continued operation of state-run institutions, had never visited one himself. Her response was: “Are you kidding me?”

The advocacy work by individuals like Wilson and Cosgrove is extremely important to creating change to policies that affect people with disabilities, according to Birkhahn-Rommelfanger.

“They can advocate not just with facts and figures but with their personal story,” he said. “That is 100 times more powerful than someone going in with a really well researched PowerPoint presentation.”

# as posted by : Medill Reports: Chicago : by Marisol Rodriguez

Thursday, July 28, 2011

21st Anniversary of ADA Brings Focus to Access for Disabled : article July 27 2011

Area service agency hosts open house and Will County RTA Paratransit Initiatives move forward

On Tuesday the 21st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- several local activities helped bring focus to the landmark civil rights legislation, which calls for equal access for disabled individuals. In Joliet, the Will Grundy Center for Independent Living hosted an Open House at its office, located at Jefferson Street and Barney Drive.

Visitors spent the afternoon learning about the programs and services of the United Way agency, including free amplified telephones, community reintegration, low vision assistive technology, personal assistant training and registry, and independent living skills training for persons with disabilities of all types and all ages. While reaching out to those who can benefit from its programs, the Will-Grundy CIL (www.will-grundycil.org) also works to promote disability awareness in the community, and encourages businesses and local governments to provide full access to disabled consumers, now one in five Americans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Later in the day, efforts to expand Will County's RTA Paratransit program moved forward full speed ahead. Led by Nick Palmer, Chief of Staff to Will County Executive Larry Walsh, a meeting of several dozen Eastern Will County stakeholders brought together representatives from numerous townships, municipalities and human service agencies. The Will County RTA Paratransit update was held in University Park at Governors State University. Program Manager Joe Voccia of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) participated in the working session, as did Washington Township Supervisor and Will County Board Member Bob Howard, Crete, Will and Rich Township representatives, leaders from Will County Senior Services, NE IL Area Agency on Aging, a liaison for the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living, and others, to discuss funding opportunities and regional paratransit programs. The focus of the meeting was to review RTA grants being pursued by the County for a Mobility Manager and operational support, both, which would enhance existing Paratransit programs to seniors and persons with disabilities throughout Will County. A Paratransit Coordinating Council will be established to continue to guide this project. Information on the Will County RTA Paratransit study can be found on its website at www.willcountyillinois.com.

Fast-becoming the second largest county in Illinois, Will County's growing population of aging and disabled residents represents a strong consumer base from which local accessible businesses can benefit. Considering that the collective buying power of these populations can be a boost to local economies, participants agreed. Many service providers from Eastern Will County spoke of the increased ridership trends to social and spending trips using the Paratransit system, compared to in the past when most trips were strictly health related. Others spoke of local businesses, which were getting involved to defray trip costs for riders who came to their locations. Palmer expressed confidence in the program's future, acknowledging the RTA and County Board for support. He closed by emphasizing the need for commitment and collaboration among local governments, service agencies and funding partners to pursue expanded transportation, which gives seniors and disabled individuals in Will County more freedom to become more active consumers.

Photo above: Nick Palmer, Chief of Staff to County Executive Larry Walsh (r) Program Manager, Joe Voccia of Regional Transportation Authority, (RTA) and Washington Township Supervisor and Will County Board member Bob Howard going over some points.

# As posted by The Times Weekly : Author: Chris Book : July 27 2011

Handicap This! (Official Movie Trailer)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Service Animals for People with Disabilities : revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section

Service Animals:

The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for title II (State and local government services) and title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities) on September 15, 2010, in the Federal Register. These requirements, or rules, clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 20 years and contain new, and updated, requirements, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards).

Overview :
This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s new regulations.

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.

How “Service Animal” Is Defined :
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.

Where Service Animals Are Allowed :
Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.

Service Animals Must Be Under Control :
Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals :

#When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

#Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.

#A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.

#Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.

#People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.

#If a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by himself or his service animal.
#Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.

Miniature Horses :
In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.) Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.


For more information about the ADA, please visit DOJ website: http://www.ada.gov/

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