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A federal judge has halted cuts to adult day health care programs for low-income disabled that were cut as part of the state's response to its budget deficit.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ordered the state not to implement pay reductions to a program that provides meals, activities, socialization and health care services to disabled adults because it would cause "irreparable and imminent" harm to participants. In the budget bill, legislators voted to reduce Medi-Cal reimbursement to the program to three visits a week down from five.

“The three-day cap was proposed as a compromise, but what legislators do not realize is that some of these people truly need five days a week. Many need around-the-clock care and their families need to work, otherwise our clients would have to be institutionalized, which would cost the state even more money,” said Southwest Community Health Center Adult Day Services Program Director Susan Beer.

She said with the recent elimination of senior programs at Santa Rosa Junior College and approved cuts to public home care workers, finding alternatives has become even more difficult. The statewide program currently serves about 37,000 individuals, a large portion of which would have to be placed in a nursing home or hospitalized without the care.

The temporary injunction came in response to a joint law suit filed by three individuals and several disabled rights group, including Disability Rights California, AARP and the National Senior Citizens Law Center.

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A diverse group of about 100 Petaluma residents has formed a new fundraising group to benefit the local hospital.

The Next Gen philanthropy committee was formed late last month as a program of the Petaluma Valley Hospital Foundation and will work to raise funds for Petaluma Valley Hospital, operated by St. Joseph Health System—Sonoma County.

The association includes individuals from varied backgrounds who, in addition to fundraising, will host educational meetings and mixers of health care professionals and the community.

Among other goals, the group would like to raise at least $20,000 annually for new medical equipment at the hospital. Next Gen will host what will be an annual Bunco and poker tournament fundraiser Nov. 7 at the Petaluma Elks Lodge.

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The Business Journal is soliciting questions and comments from readers regarding what they would like to hear during our Nov. 11 health reform-centered conference, keynoted by Safeway Inc. Senior Vice President Ken Shachmut.

Mr. Shachmut will present strategies implemented by Safeway that have successfully reduced the company’s health costs, and a diverse panel will focus on possible implications of an employer-provided insurance mandate, reform bill impacts on the private health care system and changes that are already transforming health care delivery outside of reform.

The Journal would like to engage businesses of all types in the health reform discussion, and we are interested in what topics or questions professionals would like addressed during the conference.

Please send comments or questions related to the conference to afurness@busjrnl.com with the subject line “health care conference.”

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The Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency program was the recipient of one of 27 grants recently presented by the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development this month.

The statewide funding totals $2.7 million and will be used for training materials and resources for program physicians, nurse practitioners, assistants and registered nurses. The local program received about $52,000.

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Napa Valley Orthopaedic Medical Group recruited a new sports medicine specialist late last month, Dr. Brian Freeto.

The Napa County native is an orthopedic surgeon and completed a subspecialty fellowship training in sports medicine and advanced arthroscopy of the shoulder, knee and ankle. He attended UCLA and earned his doctorate from Wayne State University School of Medicine, after which he completed his orthopedic surgery internship and residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The bone, joint, hand, hip, shoulder and spine specialty practice in the city of Napa now has five professionals and is located at 3273 Claremont Way, Ste. 100. The group recently remodeled the 7,500-square-foot space with new equipment. The group also operates offices in St. Helena, Sonoma and Vallejo.

[caption id="attachment_15304" align="alignleft" width="216" caption="Dr. Julie Chen"][/caption]

In Fairfield, Sutter Regional Medical Foundation added ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist Dr. Julie Chen and board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence Chan. Both are practicing with the Solano Regional Medical Group, which is an affiliate of the foundation.

Dr. Chen received her medical degree form Harvard Medical School and completed an internship at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto and her residency and fellowship with UCSF, where she also served as a clinical instructor of ophthalmology.

[caption id="attachment_15303" align="alignright" width="268" caption="Dr. Lawrence Chan"][/caption]

Dr. Chan received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed his internal medicine residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He also completed a gastroenterology fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and his procedural training includes colonoscopy, EGD, ERCP and PEG placement.

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Submit items for this column to D. Ashley Furness at afurness@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4257 or fax 707-521-5292.