Editor’s Column – September 2005

Special Note: We don’t know at this point how many people were killed by Hurricane Katrina or in its awful […]

Special Note: We don’t know at this point how many people were killed by Hurricane Katrina or in its awful aftermath. Meanwhile, I’m sure most of us are deeply affected by the trauma faced by all survivors, and especially by people with disabilities. The National Council on Disabilities reports that about 25% of the population in the affected areas are people with disabilities. You can find news and offer help at Web sites like www.napas.org, www.disabilityinfo.gov, and www.dredf.org. The Arc of Minnesota’s website at www.TheArcOfMinnesota.org has links to these sites, plus stories of those impacted by this unprecedented disaster.

This month we’re highlighting sickle cell disease. Far too many of us don’t know what sickle cell disease really is. The article, What is Sickle Cell Disease? will clarify many of the facts about this disease and how it affects the lives of so many people. Also, we have a short personal story on the effects of sickle cell anemia. Please read them both and thank you, Sonia M. Alvarez-Robinson, for sharing your personal story.

Alice Oden, the Access Press Webmaster, has written an article called, Superior September: Northshore Get-a-way — a personal story that might just compel you to take a road trip. Of course, after reading the article you might also want to get Minnesota’s travel guide for people with disabilities or check it out on the Web at www.accessminnesota.org. One other place you might want to check before you plan your fall getaway is www.exploreminnesota.com. Both web sites are jam-packed with good information for travelers with disabilities.

Jane Hampton has offered to be the answer person for a question-and-answer column on accessible design, or as it’s also called, universal design. Ms. Hampton has an extensive background in this field and has some very interesting ideas on making things more convenient and accessible for all kinds of building projects. This month there will be tips on design for persons with low vision. The real key to this column in issues to come will be your questions. Please send your questions, or tips from your home improvement accomplishments, to access@testing.accesspress.org.

The Department of Human Services’ PCA program is making changes! Hopefully, the changes won’t have any direct negative impact on you. I personally am concerned that they may affect us in a roundabout way, but DHS is trying very hard to work out and implement these new plans. There are two new steps for an individual to take in becoming a PCA: 1) An individual cannot start working as a PCA without a complete background check unless supervised by another person who has a completed background check; and 2) each PCA will be required to have his/her own provider number; this will allow DHS to track each PCA’s hours more closely so no one over bills or bills for two clients at the same time.

If all of us who are recipients of the program were more diligent about ensuring that PCAs report time accurately on their time cards, and if agencies more closely watched their billing, much of the problem would be solved. One bad apple can spoil the basket! Be sure to read the article by Lance Hegland, PCA Program Changes, in order to more clearly understand the background check requirements. They went into effect on July 1, 2005. We will keep you posted on the PCA provider-number plan; it is going into effect on January 1, 2006.

Health Partners is opening a new dental clinic in the Midway area of St. Paul, which will serve people with disabilities. If you haven’t seen a dentist recently this may just be the place for you. So, make an appointment and get your teeth checked.

Last month we printed two articles in “News at a Glance” that dealt with medications for mental illness. One concerned a recent FDA advisory regarding antidepressant medications and the other discussed recent legislation that prohibits schools from requiring parents to medicate their children. Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota, has written a Letter to the Editor that we are printing this month. Along with Abderholden’s letter we have collected and printed more facts, Access Press Responds, on this controversial issue. The mission of Access Press is to disseminate accurate news to disability community and to give voice to everyone in the disability community. So if there is something printed that you do not agree with, we would like to hear from you by phone or in the form of a letter to the editor.

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