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La Salle resident David Claudnic (left) and Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living assistant director Brian Szuda talk about Claudnic’s transition from nursing home to independent life. Claudnic (below), a recent amputee, is taking part in the “Money Follows the Person” program.
David Claudnic remembered rolling his wheelchair outside of the nursing home’s fenced border to a sidewalk underneath a shady tree to enjoy the nice day and as he says, “watch the cars drive by.” Claudnic, who had recently undergone an amputation of his right leg, was confined to the nursing home for long-term, after-surgery care. “They yelled at me and told me I couldn’t go out that far,” he said. “They yelled and said I couldn’t go beyond the fence. Life is a lot different now.” The nursing home referred Claudnic to Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living in La Salle to take part in the “Money follows the person” or community reintegration program. As a way to save on the cost of Medicaid and Medicare, nursing homes, various state and federal health agencies and IVCIL coordinate to place people such as Claudnic in a residence with regular at-home care as needed. “By getting people like David back into the community it’s a lot more cost-effective than him living in a long-term care facility,” said IVCIL assistant director Brian Szuda. “It’s also great for our consumers. They get to live a life they choose.” For Claudnic, that means an apartment at the Housing Authority of La Salle County’s high rise apartment building in La Salle. It also means no more structured meal plans, sleep schedule, and he is free to come and go as he pleases. “I once asked the nurses at the nursing home if they bought a spinach farm we ate it so much,” he joked. Claudnic also receives regular at-home care that takes care of his laundry, meals, shopping and anything else he may need, but by his direction in order to give him as much independence as possible. Claudnic will stay in the program for an entire year. Afterwards, he will become an IVCIL consumer. “My goal now is to stay out of the nursing home,” Claudnic said. “Maybe the city of La Salle will let me drive around a golf cart.”