Today, September 14th, the doors to the first adult day care center in Texas are closing. Buena Vida Adult Day Center, located at 9640 Montwood Drive in El Paso, opened in 1975, and was not just the first of its kind in Texas, but among the first in the country.
Operated by Lutheran Social Services, the Center began as an innovative and affordable alternative to nursing home placement, benefiting both participants and their caregivers. Transportation, nutritious meals, nursing care, activities, field trips, social interaction, and peace of mind for families were hallmarks of the program that served about 125 low-income elderly and disabled El Pasoans each year. Family caregivers have relied on Buena Vida so they could go to their work or school, knowing their loved ones were nurtured, nourished, and their medical needs supervised.
The recent expansion of the Medicaid Star Plus program into the El Paso area resulted in the second significant Medicaid funding cut to impact the program in two years. These and other primary funding source cuts since 2008 led to the decision to close the Buena Vida Center.
“Although we’ve been able to overcome some of our funding obstacles through the generosity of our loyal supporters, we simply can no longer afford to continue the program without adversely impacting other LSS programs,” said Kurt Senske, chief executive officer of LSS. “The legacy of innovation and the consistently excellent quality of care we’ve provided over the years make us extremely proud of our work at Buena Vida.” LSS will continue to serve El Paso through its Foster In Texas foster care program and transitional program for unaccompanied refugee minors.
LSS is helping staff transition into other jobs and working with the Department of the Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to help current participants find other programs that meet their individual needs.
While saying goodbye to Buena Vida is bittersweet, Steven Lujan, director of Buena Vida, summed it up when he said, “We are so proud of our accomplishments at Buena Vida―our wonderful staff made that happen. We can all be proud to have been a part of Buena Vida’s history.”