November 2023 Edition - Access Press

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Volume 34, Number 11

November 2023


Focus on Long COVID resources

COVID To page 3


Gary is a retired university professor, with a distinguished career teaching English. He was admired by students. An academic award is given in his name at a school where he taught for many years. He recently downsized and moved to be closer to family and friends in the Upper Midwest. Gary’s retirement plans include travel, gardening and work at colleges and universities near his new home. He had looked forward to filling in for staff sabbaticals and as a part-time adjunct professor of English. Gary lives with several disabilities, including a compromised immune system. He has been diligent about keeping up with vaccines for COVID-19 and other conditions that affect people in their 70s and older. He masks up in public and takes other steps to not become ill. But Gary has not been able to ward off COVID-19, and has had a few bouts of the disease. More than once he has struggled with Long COVID. Those struggles have caused setbacks in his ongoing efforts to stay healthy. A bout of COVID-19 in early autumn has led to another round of weeks of fatigue, brain fog, flu-like symptoms and a couple of falls for Gary. He is using a walker again, rather than a cane. “I just get so tired,” he said. He has enjoyed walking around the condo complex where he lives, and visiting a nearby park. “Now I have days when I can barely get from one end of my condo to another. Making dinner can wear me out.” Gary’s greatest fear is that despite his taking precautions, he could wind up with Long COVID issues for the rest of his life. “I know that not everyone who has Long COVID recovers and that really is scary for me. It’s not how I planned to spend my retirement.” Gary’s story is one of the COVID-19 stories Access Press will start starting on our web page in November. Symptoms of Long COVID can include shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, headaches, dizziness, brain fog and memory issues. Symptoms may last for months or years, affecting mental health, quality of life and financial stability. Long COVID and post-COVID conditions can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if the symptoms substantially limit one or more life activities. This determine has been in place since July 2021. Some people with Long COVID have mild to moderate symptoms that gradually get better after several months. Others may have more severe symptoms and face challenges returning to work, school, family life, exercise, and other activities that help them to thrive. A subset of people will have very severe symptoms that leave them newly disabled by Long COVID. It isn’t yet known yet know if these effects will be permanent. MDH was one of the first state health departments in the country to have a program and staff dedicated to Long COVID and post-COVID conditions. Program activities have included:


A legislative delegation visited the University of Minnesota-Morris this fall to view facilities on the bonding list.

Access improvements are among bonding requests by Jane McClure The wheels are turning toward the start of Minnesota’s 2024 legislative session. The session starts at noon February 12, 2024. Disability advocacy groups are preparing legislative agendas. Some wheels are turning on buses ferrying state lawmakers around Minnesota. Legislators and their staff members have been visiting sites where bonding assistance is sought. Many requests would provide accessibility improvements, for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Those include state buildings, colleges and university facilities and state parks. An array of facilities

Curb cuts, ramps recalled Page 2 Turn up the heat Page 5 Social Security changes Page 9 Around the Dial Page 11

that specifically serve people with disabilities also have requests in. Even-numbered years are sometimes referred to as “bonding” years. Odd-numbered years are “budget” years. The 2023 Minnesota Legislature passed a two-year budget in a historic session that included tax cuts and sweeping measures on many fronts. State lawmakers also passed a bonding bill last spring, taking advantage of the state surplus. The $2.58 billion package of infrastructure projects ended a three-year span without such brick and mortar spending. How bonding and 2024 as a whole will play

New MOHR leader Page 6

ACCESS To page 3

Plan ahead and avoid dangers of wintertime weather Winter can be an isolating and potentially dangerous time for Minnesotans with disabilities. Before the snow flies, make plans for needs such as snow shoveling, Be ready for safe travels as a pedestrian, motorist or vehicle passenger. Getting around can be a huge obstacle. When sidewalks and ramps aren’t shoveled, people who use mobility devices of all types struggle or stay home. Deep snow and slippery, packed down snow and ice cause falls, which can be disabling if not fatal. Local units of government typically have regulations on when snow must be cleared from sidewalks. Typically sidewalks must be cleared 24 hours after snow stops falling. Not shoveling sidewalks can bring fines. People should not wait for snow to melt because it likely will freeze and create icy conditions. Regulations may vary city to city, so it’s best to learn which ones must be followed for one’s home, work and location of activities. Cities and townships typically post regulations online. Or call the City or Town Hall for information. Be ready to file complaints if walks are not shoveled or if snow piles become so high as to obstruct


views at intersections. Everyone needs to keep walks cleared, including home owners and business owners with disabilities. Local business associations may have snow removal leads for business owners.

INN Newsmatch and Give to the Max

For disabled and older home owners, resources vary widely by community. If an area has a neighborhood organization and block leaders, see if a neighbor can help with snow removal this winter. WINTER To page 4

October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

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Assisted living building sales, changes a sign of worrisome trend Assisted living facilities have long been a viable housing option for disabled people who don’t need the level of care offered at nursing homes. They are also an option for people who do not wish to live in group homes. Residents have been able to tailor assistance to meet specific needs. Yet they can have a place that feels as if it is truly their home and not a shared space. Assisted living is for some a “bridge” housing option between independent living and more structured care. For others, especially younger disabled people, it becomes a way of life. Either way it allows people who need assistance to stay in the community longer and to retain some level of independence. Assisted living also can keep people out of nursing homes and out of hospitals. Assisted living facilities have long had their pitfalls. One is that the regulations can vary widely by state, and seem to give the upper hand to facility operators in some states. Changes in service providers and level of services provided can become issues. Residents are sometimes evicted when they are deemed to be too old and frail, or with too many care needs, often with little notice. Everyone who needs support services, or has a loved one receiving support services in a form of assisted living, needs to pay attention to current trends. While much focus is rightfully on elders, we also must consider younger people with disabilities who need assistance. The concerning trend we’re seeing in Minnesota and elsewhere is that as assisted living facilities are sold to new owneroperators, the assisted living component sometimes goes away. People who lose their services must seek other housing and care options, sometimes with limited time to do so.

Everyone who needs support services, or has a loved one receiving support services in a form of assisted living, needs to pay attention to current trends. While much focus is rightfully on elders, we also must consider younger people with disabilities who need assistance. The trend is seen around the state, most recently in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. That is where the 105-unit Wellington senior living complex was sold to Presbyterian Homes and Services. The good news for many residents there is that their rents will be decreased. Another positive development is that the high-rise building will provide rental housing for Presbyterian Homes and Services workers. The nonprofit has indicated that its workers struggle to find affordable housing near their workplaces. Presbyterian Homes and Services has four housing complexes in the Highland area alone. Up to 20 units at the Wellington will be offered to those workers. The bad news is that about three dozen Wellington residents who receive assisted

living services will have to move. The senior units will be offered only as independent living spaces. About 20 other assisted living residents can stay because they have contracted for their own services outside of what their previous landlord offered. Longtime building owner StuartCo. held the assisted living license for the Wellington. When there is this kind of property sale and transition in services, state law requires at least 60 days’ notice. We appreciate that this has been followed here. The Wellington is not the only assisted living facility making this kind of change. That is what is worrisome. Minnesota has more than 2,000 assisted living facilities, ranging from high-rise

buildings to much smaller structures with a few dozen residents. Licenses, regulations and other issues are overseen by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). As we read the rules there are safeguards in place for facilities and their residents when an ownership change occurs. For example, a building owner cannot simply transfer an assisted living license to a new building owner. the new owner wanting to retain assisted living must apply for a license of their own. A report on nursing homes and assisted living facilities that was provided to state lawmakers late last year indicated that in 2021, 131 assisted-living facilities shut their doors. Another 39 chose to not renew their licenses. In the same period, 71 new assisted living facilities opened. That is still a loss in spaces and living options. But like so many places that provide care for residents, assisted living facilities cannot easily attract and retain staff. And those trends are frightening. As our population ages and more people are approved for disability waivers, it create more pressure on existing staff. And all of the rules and regulations in the universe won’t make up for our dire staffing shortage in Minnesota. We have a strong and likely increasing demand for more health care workers. We know there is compassion fatigue as we disabled Minnesotans continue to raise the staffing issues. We appreciate that in many cases pay was raised. But it still is not enough to keep people in important jobs that our lives depend upon.


Curb cuts and ramps cleared the way for better accessibility This issue of Access Press includes a guide to winter safety, with one focus on snow removal and shoveling. People often have to be reminded to shovel their curb cuts and ramps to provide access to the street for people who use wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility devices. Some timelines put the development of curb cuts in the 1970s. But their origins are much early. Some cities added a limited number of curb cuts to assist disabled veterans after World War II. A history published in Carleton College’s Accessibility Digest cites the origins of curb cuts in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1945. Credit is given to Jack Fisher, an attorney and disabled U.S. Navy veteran. Many veterans came home from war with disabilities. Wheelchairs became more prevalent. As veterans returned to their homes and the workforce, they needed access. Veterans around the United States waged a

new fight to get curb cuts and ramps placed. But many communities still lacked curb curbs and ramps. In her memoir the late disability activist Judith Heumann described the great difficulty people in wheelchairs had with curb cuts in her youth. Born in 1947, Heumann had polio when she was a toddler. She used a wheelchair for the rest of her life. In her book Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, she describes what life was like on her Brooklyn block. While she was lucky to have a couple of young friends on her block, Huemann compared street curbs to “the Great Wall of China.” Heumann’s memoir describes a typical childhood day in the early 1950s, when she’d get help from her mother to use their family’s front door ramp. She’d wheel next door to meet a friend but couldn’t climb three stone steps to reach the doorbell. Heumann would have to call out for her friend and hope that

someone heard her. The friends would typically go to a third friend’s back yard and play. Huemann could go along if another child pushed her wheelchair. The group was fine on their side of the block, but if they went elsewhere a street curb could be an obstacle. Heumann would be left out. More efforts to gain curb cuts and ramps came in the 1960s and 1970s as college students sought change. One of those students was prominent disability rights activist Ed Roberts, who protested Berkeley’s inaccessible sidewalks and street corners. University of California Berkeley students worked at night to demolish curbs and lay in curb cuts and ramps with asphalt. The Architectural Barriers Act was passed by Congress in 1968, setting the stage for the broader access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Curb cuts and ramps should never be taken

for granted, as the fight for them cleared the way for broader access. Learn more at the Carleton College website, at accessibility-resources/newsletter/curb-cuts-abrief-history/ Encore Magazine also has this history. Learn more at Another website for those interested in curb cuts and ramps is in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The Curb Cut Effect is used to described innovations meant to help one group that end up helping many. Learn more at cut_effect The History Note is a monthly column produced in cooperation with the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. Past History Notes and other disability history may be found at www.

EDITORIAL: Editorial submissions and news releases on topics of interest to persons with disabilities, or persons serving those with disabilities, are welcomed. We reserve the right to edit all submissions. Editorial material and advertising do not necessarily reflect the view of the editor/publisher of Access Press.

Website: email: phone: 651-644-2133 Editor............................................................................................................................................................................................. Jane McClure Board of Directors...........................................Tim S. Benjamin, John Clark, Adrienne Coatley, Mark Daly, Brendan Downes, ...............................................................................................................Catherine Hunter, Jane Larson, Ann Roscoe, Kay Willshire (Chair) Business Operations and Advertising Manager..........................................................................................................Mary Graba Advertising Sales..................................................................................................................................................................... Emily Kahnke Production........................................................................................................................................................................................ In-Fin Tuan Digital Production..................................................................................................................................Tricia Donovan, Scott Stadum Co-Founder/Publisher Wm. A. Smith, Jr. (1990-96) Co-Founder/Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief Charles F. Smith (1990-2001) Editor-in-Chief/Executive Director Tim Benjamin (2001-2020)

DEADLINE: 15th of each month. CIRCULATION/DISTRIBUTION: Distributed the 1st of each month through more than 200 locations statewide. Approximately 750 copies are mailed to individuals, including political, business, institutional and civic leaders. SUBSCRIPTION: Free and accessible to anyone in MInnesota, visit to subscribe. ABOUT ACCESS PRESS: A monthly newspaper published for persons with disabilities by Access Press, Ltd. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Access Press, PO Box 40006, Industrial Station, St. Paul, MN 55104-8006. INQUIRIES AND ADDRESS CHANGES should be directed to: Access Press, PO Box 40006, Industrial Station, St. Paul, MN 55104-8006; 651-644-2133; email: Website:

October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

From page 1 out hinges in large part of how much money the state has. A mid-October report from Minnesota Management and Budget indicated that the state’s previous two-year budget cycle ended with a balance that is about $820 million higher than previous estimates. Add that to a state surplus which was estimated at $1.58 billion in May, and the surplus increases to around $2.4 billion. A new economic forecast is expected in February and that will give a better picture of what can be spent on state needs. In February 2023 the state surplus was a record $17.5 billion. That was used for a wide range of one-time projects and programs, new programs, tax cuts and other measures. Preliminary 2024 bonding requests were due at Management and Budget in May, with a list of requests developed over the summer. Requests statewide total almost $7.4 billion. Of those, $4.4 billion is requested from state agencies. Local units of government have requested $3 billion. State officials must develop additional project information and refine cost estimates before submitting the Governor’s Strategic Capital Budget to state lawmakers on or before January 16, 2024. Access needs are scattered throughout the bonding requests. Some are disability specific. Others include access improvements as part of facility renovation or construction projects. The hundreds of requests statewide put a spotlight on how infrastructure is aging and in many cases, is still not accessible. One example is at the University of Minnesota-Morris, where there is a $4 million ask for upgrades to the Multi-Ethnic Resource Center. The center, constructed in 1899, is the only campus building original to the Native American boarding school there more than a century ago. Since 1972, the Morris building has been home to the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Intercultural Programs, which includes the


From page 1 • Generating informational resources and raising awareness about long COVID. • Conducting phone surveys to assess the impacts of COVID-19 and the pandemic on the lives of Minnesotans. • Convening a Guiding Council of Minnesota clinicians who care for long



Stairways in older campus buildings can be barriers Multi-Ethnic Student Program, LGBTQIA2S+ Programs and the International Student Programs office. The building lacks an elevator and other basic accessibility infrastructure, as well as modern life safety and building systems. In the year 2000, a ramp was added to an entrance at the basement level of the building. But the other two floors of the building remain inaccessible to disabled visitors. Nor are restrooms in the building accessible. Other requests may be more familiar. An $8.5 million request is for ADA-focused upgrades to the tunnel at the state capitol, from the Department of Administration. The tunnel has steep spots and can be tricky to navigate. The project would create a new 15-foot-wide by 85-foot-long adjacent section at the east end of the tunnel connecting the capitol and state

buildings. The improvement will meet the slope requirements of 12 units of horizontal run for every 1 unit of vertical rise (8.3 percent), as required by the ADA. Work will also include the installation of an elevator that will convey wheelchairs and pedestrians with disabilities between the new ADA tunnel and the basement levels of the Capitol Building. The current tunnel will remain in place to serve those who can use it and to maintain the current usage volume capacity of the tunnel section. The Department of Administration seeks an additional $2 million per year in 2024, 2026 and 2028 for the ADA building accommodation fund. The Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf (MSAD) and Blind (MSAB) in Faribault have several requests, including $100,000 to update

COVID patients in primary and specialty care settings across the state. This group was launched in spring 2023. • Partnering with community organizations to assess and address gaps in health equity. • Engaging people with long COVID and their caregivers, local public health, employers, school nurses, and others to share information about long COVID, shape sectorspecific resources, gauge unmet needs, and

inform our efforts and priorities. The long COVID program at MDH is supported in part by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a two-year annual financial assistance award totaling $900,000. Learn more about Long COVID, find links to research and clinical trials underway by others and find other resources at https:// index.html

Support Access Press and Double Your Gift. Gift Your gift will allow Access Press to bring news and information important to the disability community. In December, NewsMatch will match your monthly donations 12 times or double your one-time gift, all up to $1,000. Donate now through December 28, 2023. Go to


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a 10-year facilities plan. The current plan for the campuses dates from 2012. The largest academies’ request is $2.5 million to redesign and renovate the MSAB Library building that was recently vacated by the Minnesota Department of Education. The space was leased for use as the Minnesota Talking Book and Braille Library, until those programs moved to Minneapolis this fall. The space needs improvements before it can be used by MSAB students. Another $2.5 million in asset preservation dollars is sought by both state academies. That money would be used compliance with ADA, safety/security concerns, and a variety of accessibility needs on both campuses. The campuses have a backlog of requests because asset preservation dollars haven’t been granted in recent years. Other asks include $300,000 for predesign of the MSAB therapy pool/therapeutic hot tub facility; and $300,000 to complete predesign for a new MSAD student center. The largest batch of disability facility requests is from the Department of Human Service, which seeks $147 million in 2024, and $50 million apiece in 2026 and 2028. Those funds target asset preservation around the state as well as improvements at various state facilities that serve people with disabilities. Another familiar requests is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ask of $25 million per year in 2024, 2026 and 2028 to make access improvements to state parks. The DNR works with the Minnesota Council on Disabilities on such requests. Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is back with $300 million requests in 2024, 2026 and 2028 for housing infrastructure. Part of that housing package is for permanent supportive housing. This is affordable rental housing with connections to services necessary to enable tenants to live in the community and improve their lives. This type of housing serves people with an array of disabilities. Read all of the state bonding requests at current/ Note that MDH is providing links to help people find opportunities to be involved in research studies that may apply to them. But MDH is not involved in these research studies. Access Press is providing COVID-19 coverage and resources through a grant with MDH. Go to our website and look for online exclusives to get information between print issues.

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October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

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FROM OUR COMMUNITY Your support is needed to keep Access Press alive and thriving Dear Readers, As we approached November 3 and the Access Press dinner, I thought (and continue to think) about our past. Anyone who has been around long enough might remember what the world was like prior to the enactment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I certainly do. Being born in the 1950s with a condition affecting language development, I lived in a place where most children with disabilities were sent to “special” schools, separated and not having the same opportunities as others. People thought this was okay, along with other school segregation and different pay scales for men vs. women workers. These civil rights acts mean opportunity and inclusion. We must never forget. Access Press keeps civil rights in the forefront as it provides important information, resources, and various points of view. I can’t imagine not having it. That is why I volunteered to join the Board of Directors. I now serve as treasurer, so it is only appropriate that I write about the economics of publishing.


From page 1 Disability Hub can help people with disabilities find snow shoveling resources. Senior Linkage Line can help elders with that task. Learn more at https:// and senior-linkage-line/ Other resources can include local community action programs and neighborhood living at home/block nurse programs. Faith-based institutions may also offer help as a community service. St. Paul has a volunteer group on Facebook, called the Saintly City Snow Angels. Volunteers are matched with people who need help. Be aware that winters like the most recent one can really tax volunteer groups. Learn more at https://www.facebook. com/groups/108305797824732/?hoisted_ section_header_type=recently_seen&multi_ permalinks=637270998261540 Some disability-focused groups have organized to monitor sidewalks year-round. The Minneapolis Sidewalk Repair Hunters have a website and Facebook group that provides resources and information for that city. Learn more at The Minnesota Council on Disability has a web page dedicated to snow removal. One point made is that businesses and other property owners have the responsibility to keep disability parking spaces and access aisles free from obstructions. In the winter, these obstructions include plowed snow. Every winter the state council receives dozens of reports of snow piled up in disability parking spaces and access aisles. Those piles can turn into dangerous mounds of ice and snow. The access aisle is the “no parking zone” next to a disability parking space. For people who use disability parking, the access aisle is just as important as the space itself. People use this area to deploy wheelchair lifts and other adaptations from their vehicles. Without a clear access aisle, many folks who use disability parking would not be able to exit their vehicles. It is against the law to place anything in the access aisle. A business or property owner could be fined up to $500 and be guilty of a misdemeanor for allowing snow, or anything else, to block disability parking spaces. This includes the access aisle. Local law enforcement is responsible for warning and fining business and property owners. Contact local law enforcement if snow is piled in any art of a disability parking space. Learn more about snow removal at Those who can drive or who ride in motor vehicles should consider winter safety. Vehicles should get a winter safety check every fall. Remember when driving long distances or in rural areas, make sure gas tanks, antifreeze and wiper fluids are filled. Check road conditions before heading out, at The National Safety Council recommends having blankets or a sleeping bag, hand warmers, winter boots, mittens, socks and hats. An ice scraper and snow brush are must-haves. So are a flashlight plus extra

First, I want to thank our supporters. A special thanks to UCare for the support that kept us afloat by supplying a grant to fund transition to new management as well as monies to provide news as a service to all who need it. Also, thanks to our partner for this event, Institute on Community Integration, for their mentorship and for making it possible to hold our event at McNamara Center. The Disability Resource Center, also at the University of Minnesota, has provided access for our event, along with their expertise in universal design. Getting through the pandemic was quite a feat. We saw many businesses fold or shrink. Our funding has always been a three-legged stool with advertising, grants and gifts. Advertising fell as companies had to cut back,

grants are very competitive, and the stool was getting very wobbly. When Tim Benjamin faced similar challenges in 2003, he started the Charlie Smith Award dinner. Your board decided it was time to bring it back for all sorts of reasons, including funding. We want the news to be available to all who need it, but it takes money. Your donations will pay for: • $40 - funds two electronic subscriptions for one year, 12 issues • $60 - funds two hard copy subscriptions for one year, 12 issues • $350 - funds a metro area drop site for one year • $450 - funds a greater Minnesota drop-site for one year • $2,000 - funds an issue spotlight for an organization

batteries (or a hand-crank flashlight), road flares or reflective triangles, a red bandana or piece of cloth, windshield cleaner and jumper cables. It’s also helpful to have a multi-tool, such as a Swiss Army knife. Pack a snow shovel, tire chains and tow strap. Include a bag of sand to help with traction. Cat litter works if it is clay, nonclumping litter. Traction devices that can be put under tires also work. Vehicle floor mats can be used in an emergency. It’s a good idea to have a vehicle first aid kit year round, with band-aids, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic cream, medical wrap and anything needed for a specific medical condition. Bottled water and nonperishable highenergy foods such as unsalted and canned nuts, granola bars, raisins and dried fruit, peanut butter or hard candy are good to have.

Seal the food items in a tin. Use a smaller, separate waterproof container for a lighter and box of matches, if snow must be melted for water. Bring proper food and enough water for service animals. Becoming stranded is a possibility. Make sure gas tanks are full and cell phones are charged before leaving on a trip. Make sure tires are properly inflated. Let others know the route and times of arrival and departure If stranded, don’t leave the vehicle. Don’t try to push the vehicle out of the snow. Light flares, put out safety triangles and tie a red cloth or bandana to a vehicle where it can be seen. Stay warm but only run the engine long enough to warm the vehicle. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, mud or anything else.

Don't be left out! Next Access Press Directory is January 2024 In print four times annually and online 24/7, the Directory offers quick information for people seeking an array of resources. From housing to health care, recreation to recovery, clubs to consumer-directed community supports, we offer the information you need for your best life!

In addition, we seek donations to fund initiatives for 2024 and beyond: • Increase outreach to greater Minnesota – including communities that do not have local services to provide information that can be found in Access Press. • Increase internship opportunities – including opportunities for freelance writers and also experiences for others seeking job related experience. Access Press worked with two interns to manage our database and work on the November 3 event. This year, our interns had the opportunity to learn about our business and we certainly benefited from their work and dedication to the paper. • Seek new partnerships – working with other nonprofits to find ways we can help each other and leverage resources. If you can do so, please help keep this unique news source available to all who need it. Regards, Jane Larson, Treasurer On behalf of the Access Press Board of Directors

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October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

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The onset of winter weather brings changes and challenges for Minnesotans with disabilities. Be prepared and stay safe, whether at home or out and about. Staying indoors? Heating bills can be an eye-opener, as costs have risen. It’s always worth checking a household’s eligibility for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program. The program is free and provides benefits of up to $1,400. There is also additional support to respond to heating emergencies. Both home owners and renters may qualify. Eligibility is based on income and household size. An example is that a family of four could earn up to $62,822 and qualify for help. Payments for energy bills are sent directly to the household’s energy company or to a provider of fuel like propane, fuel oil or wood. Initial benefits average $500 per household and can be up to $1,400. The state’s Energy Assistance Program is federally funded and administered by the Department of Commerce, which works with local service providers throughout the state. The state website lists providers by county. The deadline to apply for energy assistance during the winter of 2023-2024 is May 31, 2024. Want to know more? Go to https:// energy-assistance-program/ Minnesota has a Cold Energy Rule, which has been in place since the 1980s. It is a state law that protects residential utility customers from having electric or natural gas service shut off between October 1 and April 30. To protect service from disconnection, people must make and keep a payment plan that that is agreed upon with a home or apartment’s utility provider. Under state law, a utility must offer a payment plan that is reasonable for your household’s financial circumstances. A payment plan may be set up any time during the Cold Weather Rule season. Renters are eligible if the electricity or gas are the primary heat source, and if they pay utilities. All natural gas and electric utilities must offer protection under the Cold Weather Rule. The rule does not apply to delivered fuels, such as oil, propane or wood. Anyone who uses delivered fuels and has a furnace powered


Be safe and warm this winter with heating resources, energy tips

The Heat's On program provided help to Minnesotans earlier this fall with electricity can seek Cold Weather Rule Program. Known as WAP, the program is assistance with the electricity provider. provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Anyone interest should call their natural (DOE) and U.S. Department of Health and gas, electric, municipal utility or electric Human Services (HHS). cooperative for more information, or contact WAP enables income-qualified households the Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer to permanently reduce their energy bills by Affairs Office at or helping to make their homes more energy 651-296-0406, 1-800-657-3782. efficient while protecting the health and Learn more at safety of family members. In Minnesota, consumers/shut-off-protection/ WAP services are delivered by 23 service Take other steps to hold down energy providers across the state. The program bills. Through federal funding, Minnesota is worth looking into. Learn more at also offers the Weatherization Assistance

government/service-providers/weatherization/ A heating system should be checked annually. Heating systems should be tuned up every year and replaced with newer, more efficient models at the end of their lifespan. Check with community action programs to see if help is available for tune-ups or repairs. Many websites provide information on how to keep one’s home warm without busting an energy budget. Manually set the thermostat at 68°F during the day and lower it at bedtime or when everyone is away at work or school. A “smart” thermostat is a good investment, and an easy way to automatically adjust temperatures. Weatherize windows and doors. Plastic over windows can keep the cold out. So can heavy drapes or even a blanket over windows at bedtime. Seal any leaks in doors and windows using weatherization techniques such as draft snakes. Draft snakes are long fabric tubes filled with batting that are put at the base of a door to keep drafts out. Make a draft snake with old, long socks or leggings. Avoid using space heaters and open ovens to provide heat. Space heaters are inefficient and don’t distribute warmth around your home as well as your heating system does. Space heaters and ovens can also cause danger. Use the power of the sun. Open the drapes and blinds during the day to harness the power of the sun to warm up a home. Keep extra blankets, flashlights and candles on hand in the event of a power loss due to winter storms. Close off unused rooms to conserve heat. A great resource is on the Hennepin County website. Learn more at https://www. home-energy-efficiency Another resource is University of Minnesota Extension, which has a wide range of information on home management. There’s a section on extreme weather that has some great tips. Learn more at https://

Stay safe, warm at home It may be cozy to be at home during a winter storm, watching snowflakes hit the windows. Without preparation, winter weather can be a difficult experience. Climatological winter began October 15 and ends April 15. Keep track of local weather forecasts. The National Weather Services offers forecasts as well as a wealth of winter weather and winter safety information, at https://www. Minnesotans with disabilities know all too well that they may struggle if they get snowed in, especially if the power goes out. That can be especially true in rural areas. It’s always a good idea to have heating systems, chimneys and fireplaces checked before they go into regular use. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, too. Make sure there is an ample supply of medications and personal care products on hand. Many people with disabilities rely on having adequate medical supplies of all types. Don’t run out due to bad weather. Stock up on nonperishable foods and bottled water for such emergencies. One rule of thumb is to have a three to five-day supply of food for each person in a household. Make sure pets and service animals have a good supply of food and water, too.

The University of Minnesota Extension Service has information keeping food cold during power outages, and food preparation during power outages. Learn more at https:// Print out copies before the power goes out. Keep home first aid kits stocked. Keep a good supply of flashlights, batteries and candles. Make sure candles are never left unattended. Make sure phones and other devices are charged if winter storms are imminent. Keep a supply of reading materials and other things to do in case of winter storms. If possible, have a plan for work. Most importantly, have a buddy system of people to check in with on a daily basis. The winter weather stories are compiled from several sources. Thanks to the Minnesota Council on Disability, Disability Hub, Senior Linkage Line, University of Minnesota Extension Service, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Hennepin County, Minnesota Department of transportation, national Weather Service, Minneapolis Sidewalk Repair Hunters, Saintly City Snow Angels, Heat’s On, National Safety Council and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

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PEOPLE & PLACES East Range DAC leader Harkonen to take the helm for MOHR Robin Harkonen, executive director of the East Range DAC, is the new president of the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR). She takes office just as the organization is preparing for the 2024 session of the Minnesota Legislature. In her new role, Harkonen is responsible for supporting the almost 100 non-profit day and employment-service providers that make up MOHR’s membership. She will be with disability advocates throughout the state, and supporting MOHR’s legislative agenda. Harkonen previously served as a regional representative and as vice president of MOHR, advocating for disability services in meetings with state agencies including the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Department of Health. She met extensively with legislators and legislative committees. “I’m honored to serve as president of MOHR,” Harkonen said. “I firmly believe the biggest strength of MOHR is the varied experiences and expertise of all our members and supporters. I intend to foster a strong network of employment and enrichment services for people with disabilities throughout the state.” The East Range DAC is a nonprofit that provides employment training and work programs for individuals with disabilities across the Iron Range. Harkonen has

Robin Harkonen

Julie Johnson

worked with the organization for more than 35 years. East Range DAC was founded in 1966. It provides job training and work opportunities for more than 90 employees with disabilities from the Iron Range.

It serves the communities of Virginia, Eveleth, Mountain Iron, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Babbitt, Embarrass, Hibbing, Chisholm and Buhl, and their surrounding areas. Its work is done at its Eveleth center and in community settings.

∏∏f Lentz dedicated to community Deborah “Debbie” Lentz led a life of service to deaf and deafblind Minnesotans. Lentz died earlier in July after a short battle with cancer. She was 75 and lived in St. Louis Park. Lentz graduated Minneapolis Lutheran High School, and then went on to Gallaudet University. She graduated from college in 1972, with a degree in studio arts. Deaf since birth, Lentz was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1984. She maintained stable vision for nearly 20 years. After several eye surgeries in 2006 and 2007, she began to experience more blurred vision. In 2009 she lost all vision in one eye and 90 percent in the other. She worked for 35 years at US Bank before being laid off. She worked with State Services for the Blind’s workforce program and learned Braille and how to use new technologies. Lentz had a unique second career and was known as the “doctor of dots” for her work to repair Perkins Braillers, operating a repair workshop in her basement. She went to school in Massachusetts to learn how to repair the machines. Invented in 1951 by a teacher at the Perkins School, the standard Perkins Brailler has 756 parts. Braillers have a dedicated following even though much Braille production is computerized. In an interview, Lentz described her love of her new work. “I like to do the deep

Harkonen succeeds Julie Johnson of MSS, who has wrapped up a five-year term. During Johnson’s tenure, she guided the organization through COVID, several legislative sessions, and a severe workforce shortage. She will now become co-chair of MOHR’s Government Relations Committee. “I firmly believe MOHR provides a great connection for advocacy, education, and collaboration,” said Johnson. “Together, we ensure people with disabilities can thrive, find employment, and be deeply engaged in their communities. Our communities are stronger when everyone is included. I look forward to my new role in MOHR, allowing me the opportunity to continue to work with such a strong group of service providers.” Thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities have a better, more meaningful quality of life through access to employment and enrichment opportunities offered by hundreds of local non-profits. These mission-driven, independently operated organizations offer distinct approaches and resources in their local communities. MOHR supports members with training, awareness building and legislative advocacy. Learn more at https://

In Memoriam f∏∏

cleaning on the machines,” she said, “and then figure out repairs and adjustments.” She served the Minnesota DeafBlind Association as president and treasurer. The association received several awards under her leadership. She also served on the DeafBlind Committee of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, which provides guidance to State Services for the Blind. She was active in deaf theater and teaching Sunday school. She was a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for the Deaf, Spring Lake Park. She is survived by cousins and many friends. A celebration of life for Lentz was held in October. She is survived by cousins and many friends. Memorials preferred to the Minnesota DeafBlind Association, 2233 University Ave W, Suite #221, St. Paul, MN 55114. Hanson a longtime leader James “Jim” or “Jimmie” Hanson led a life of service to Minnesotans with disabilities. Hanson died in September due to respiratory failure. He was 74 and lived in the Twin Cities. Hanson became quadriplegic at a young age. He graduated from Robbinsdale High School in 1966 and then went on to what is now Southwest State University in Marshall. During his college years he

worked for disability rights and world peace. While earning his master’s degree at the University Minnesota, Hanson co-founded Unicorn, a student and faculty committee formed to ensure equal educational opportunity for all, regardless of physical ability. Hanson served as a social worker at Sister Kenny Institute for 40 years. For 15 years he concurrently worked at the University of Minnesota School of Public health as an educator in the field of sexuality and

disability. He was an ardent advocate for disabled people recovering from chemical dependency. Hanson was a gifted musician, poet and artist. He was noted for his droll humor, but was serious about his devotion to the family and friends. He is survived by his wife Michele, stepson Troy McDonald and grandson Zachary McDonald. Services have been held.

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October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

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PEOPLE & PLACES Red Wing resident Bale celebrates 50-year anniversary with ProAct

Larry Bale and Gloria Solsaa, Program Director at Red Wing's ProAct facility, celebrated at the event.

Bale was surprised by friends from the Red Wing Men's Chorus who came to sing and surprise him as part of the celebration.

importance of inclusion. He is also a reflection of ProAct’s mission, which is to enhance the lives of individuals

with disabilities through enrichment programming and activities, employment and support services. For more information

about ProAct, Inc. and its services, go to

Organizations win honors from DHS The Minnesota Department of Human Services is honoring the dedication and innovative work of 10 partners that support Minnesotans to achieve their highest potential, with the annual Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards. The awards are given to nonprofits that provide essential services to people with disabilities, refugees, Indigenous youth and elders, families with children, people who have public health insurance and people who are starting their recovery journeys. Innovations include offering Indigenous food options and caring for pets so their owners can enter substance use disorder treatment. Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead began presenting the awards in mid-October. “Each year, we lift up partners who are making real progress toward an equitable Minnesota where all people can achieve their highest potential,” Harpstead said. “We are so proud of all the ways this year’s award winners are applying community knowledge and innovative ideas to solve persistent problems. Their work has a remarkable impact on our state.” DHS started the awards program in 2012. Three 2023 winners have a focus on people with disabilities. They are: Apple Tree Dental, Mounds View, is a nonprofit critical access dental organization that has nine Centers for Dental Health and mobile programs that deliver year-round, on-site care in collaboration with about 150 organizations. Clients range from Head Start programs and schools to group homes and long-term care facilities. Founded in 1985, Apple Tree serves patients of all ages and

abilities, providing a full range of special care services for children and adults. More than 84 percent of Apple Tree’s patients are enrolled in Minnesota’s public health care programs. In 2022, Apple Tree provided 92,765 visits and screenings and delivered services valued at over $36 million. Behavioral Dimensions Inc., St. Louis Park; and Dakota County Children’s Mental Health, Apple Valley provides a critical care unit for behavioral supports programming. The intensive in-home behavior intervention program serves children and adolescents with complex mental and behavioral health needs who are at risk of being placed outside their home (for example, in foster care or long-term hospitalization). A team of mental health professionals and behavior analysts works alongside youth, their family and affected community members to stabilize continuous crisis events. The team provides intensive services in collaboration with Children’s Mental Health services in Dakota County. They also provide behavior consultation services to a wider range of people in Dakota County and several counties in central and southern Minnesota. Pink Cloud Foundation, Minneapolis, partners with more than 50 treatment centers, six state correctional facilities and nearly 100 recovery homes. The foundation has become widely recognized as a top recovery resource in Minnesota for people in early recovery and their care providers. It provides sober housing assistance, support services and critical resources to people seeking long-term recovery from substance use disorder. In four years, the organization has helped place almost 700 people into sober housing, launched innovative

programming to offer pet fostering services to pet owners who need substance use disorder treatment, and increased awareness of substance use disorder through community outreach during the opioid crisis. Other winners are Afghan Legal Clinic (the Advocates for Human Rights and

Volunteer Lawyers Network), Minneapolis; Lower Sioux Indian Community, Morton; MIGIZI, Minneapolis; and Tri-City Connections (Austin Aspires and Growing Up Healthy), Austin, Faribault and Northfield


Red Wing resident Larry Bale was honored in October by ProAct, Inc., a nonprofit providing in-center, virtual and community-based services for individuals with disabilities, Bakle and ProAct celebrated Bale’s 50 years of service. Bale was recognized as part of ProAct’s annual service awards tradition, which celebrates the achievements of participants. Gloria Solsaa, director of programming at ProAct’s Red Wing site, said, “Throughout his five decades with ProAct, Larry has demonstrated a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a genuine passion for helping others. He is an inspiration to all who meet him and lights up every room he walks into. We are incredibly fortunate that Larry is part of our Red Wing ProAct community.” Bale was pleased and excited to be honored. “ProAct has offered me the opportunity to work fun jobs and meet new people over the years. I have seen so many positive changes during my time at ProAct,” he said. “I have loved all of the classes and outings that I have been a part of.” Outside of his involvement with ProAct, Bale is well-known in the Red Wing community, most notably for his participation in the Red Wing Community Men’s Chorus. He is also an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church and the Red Wing Lions Club. Bale’s 50 years with ProAct is a testament to the power of determination and the

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October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

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REGIONAL NEWS Jenkins discusses multiple sclerosis Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins is publicly speaking about her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Jenkins, who is in the midst of a closely watched election that could tip the balance of power on the council, said her difficulty with walking and physical fatigue are the result of multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed in 2017. She has recently begun using an electric scooter “to be able to conserve some of the energy that I expend doing the most basic human task of walking,” Jenkins wrote in a recent email Friday to constituents, adding that “I am otherwise very healthy and ... my cognitive abilities are as strong and capable as they ever were.” Jenkins is in a four-way race to retain her seat. She has used a cane for some time. But her increased difficulties have become more apparent in recent months. It’s become common for her to be given a chair during news conferences that require long periods of standing. Colleagues are frequently seen keeping a watchful eye on her, or offering a helping hand when she makes her way around the tight quarters of the City Council chambers. Jenkins said she first “came out to my colleagues and to the community” in 2018. “At that time, my disability was somewhat invisible, and the symptoms, though intense, were only known to myself,” she wrote in her regular constituent email message. “Since that time, my mobility challenges have become much more noticeable.” (Source: Star Tribune)

DHS changes underway Four different state agencies currently oversee programs for young children in Minnesota: the Department of Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Public Safety and the Department of Health. During the 2023 legislative session, a proposal for a new state agency was passed to consolidate those programs under one jurisdiction: the Minnesota Department of Children, Youth and Families. Veteran early childhood care provider Amanda Schillinger has worked with children and families for more than three decades. She enjoys her work but as director of Pumpkin Patch Child Care and Learning Center in Burnsville, her job entails a lot of paperwork including permits, scholarships and contracts for 140 babies, toddlers and children at two locations. She has less time to spend with the children and more time spent on administration. Schillinger supports the change and testified before legislators. “It's also going to help families find their resources,” she said. “Even paying for child care isn't under one department. That falls into two different areas as well. So kind of getting us all organized so that we can find our answers and find our needs and find our supports in one place instead of having to go so far to look for things.” Getting everybody involved and working together is what Erin Bailey, assistant commissioner of the Children’s Cabinet, is in charge of as the co-chair of the steering committee for the new department’s implementation. Rep. Dave Pinto, DFL-St. Paul, believes that sharpened focus will bring higher visibility to early care and learning issues. As the chair of the Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee, he also hopes the new department will mean better spending and accountability. “These are very fragmented programs,” Pinto said. “And they are pretty much all — not pretty much they are all deeply underfunded and it's not nearly serving the families and kids that they're supposed to serve.” (Source: Minnesota Public Radio)

Confusion over SROs continues Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison hopes more law enforcement agencies put school resource officers or SROs back in school after he offered two “binding” opinions that can only be overruled by a judge or the Minnesota Legislature. Ellison said that those who interpreted a new state law passed last May as only allowing officers to restrain students in extreme circumstances are not correct. “They’re able to use reasonable force,” he said. “That’s the simplest, most straightforward thing. It’s already in law, 609.06. And look, 609.06 is based on the U.S. Constitution.” Ellison said officers still have wide latitude to intervene and restrain students if necessary and within reason. “My thing is if an officer is in good faith trying to break up a fight and maintain safety, that officer is in very good shape and should not worry,” Ellison said in an interview recorded for KSTP-TV. Despite restrictions, Ellison said the

Andrea Jenkins

ability to use “reasonable force” remains in effect even for nonviolent offenses, but adds, “I completely understand why there’s confusion.” Several days after Ellison offered his opinion to allay concerns about the new law, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarity offered her own opinion to law enforcement in her county saying she believes school resource officers should only restrain students if they pose a risk to themselves or others. When asked if Moriarity’s opinion confused the issue even further, he responded, “It was not helpful.” Some school resource officers have returned to schools around the state, but others say they will remain out until the law is changed. (Source: KSTP-TV)

PCA extension ends November 12 Effective Nov. 12, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will end the exception that has allowed the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to pay personal care assistance (PCA) provider agencies for services provided by spouses and parents (including stepparents and legal guardians) of minors. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, PCA provider agencies could not bill DHS or a person’s managed care organization for services provided by these specific family members. Parents, stepparents and legal guardians of minors, as well as spouses may continue to serve as a PCA worker for their family member until Saturday, November 11. In May CMS let DHS know of a policy change that allowed the state to apply for a six-month extension of this temporary allowance created during the COVID-19 federal public health emergency. That time period has come to an end. As part of the response to the COVID-19 federal public health emergency, DHS could temporarily allow specific family members to serve as PCA workers through the end of the emergency period. People receiving PCA services, families, lead agencies, providers and other advocates have been asking questions about the impact to people and families taking advantage of this exemption when the federal public health emergency period ended. DHS tried to work with CMS for more than a year to develop workable plans to

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extend the exemption within federal legal constraints. (Source: Minnesota DHS)

Railing hazards are raised

Many on the overnight shift at Edgewood Brainerd sensed the danger of returning a frail resident to a bed with a railing that choked him until his face turned purple. Workers tried to remove the railing, but couldn't. A manager's email ordered an assessment of the resident and removal of his railing, but a nurse didn't read it in time. Even the resident, who had dementia, was reportedly afraid after being stabilized in a hospital and returned hours later to the same bed. He was put back in his bed, and this time, the result was fatal. As he slipped off the bed in the early morning of June 11, his head became wedged between the mattress and railing, according to a state investigative report that did not identify the resident. Eilon Caspi, a national elder-safety advocate, has reviewed hundreds of entrapment reports for his research and was incredulous over the timing, saying “Eleven hours after the first entrapment, it happens again?” A cluster of bed-rail entrapments has advocates concerned that the risks are worsening amid staffing shortages and other pressures, particularly in assisted living facilities — which are being pressed to provide more complex care as nursing homes close. The Minnesota Department of Health issued an alert this fall after documenting five entrapment deaths and one serious injury in state-licensed facilities since December 2022. The state found maltreatment in at least three assisted-living facilities where residents died, including Edgewood. Investigative reports reveal frustrating circumstances in which facilities traded one problem for another by trying to prevent falls with bed rails that either weren't proper fits or weren't regularly assessed for the potential for entrapment. Staff at Edgewood had been working for weeks to protect the resident who died — after 11 falls from bed in three months. The state faulted the facility for failing to do a documented reassessment of the bed-rail risk in the pivotal hours after the first entrapment — in violation of assisted-living licensing

requirements that have existed in Minnesota since 2021. Bed rails are metal or hard plastic frames that are designed to help people sit up and prevent them from rolling out of bed, but a 2021 Canadian review advised them only as a "last resort" because of a lack of evidence that they reduce falls. Their tradeoff risks are well-documented; the Consumer Product Safety Commission updated its guidance this summer on when and how to use bed rails based on 284 entrapment deaths since 2003. Assisted-living facilities raise unique concerns, because loved ones have more input and control than they do in nursing homes over residents' rooms, including the installation of bed rails, said Patti Cullen, chief executive of Care Providers of Minnesota. The trade association created a safety tip sheet, including the need for documented conversations about bed-rail risks with residents or relatives before installing them. Cullen said 116 nursing homes have closed since 2000, which likely leaves assistedliving facilities caring for more patients with complex disabilities and levels of dementia. Staffing shortages could make matters worse, Caspi said, because caregivers will have to prioritize the immediate physical needs of residents at the expense of risk assessments. Consumers concerned about maltreatment in Minnesota's licensed facilities can search their licensure histories on (Source: Star Tribune)

People Incorporated opens new facility People Incorporated, the largest nonprofit mental health provider in the state, in October welcomed clients to a new hybrid facility at 3633 Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. People Incorporated is opening up another hybrid facility in Minneapolis to increase the odds of patients getting all the help they need. “You lose people in the system when you have those transition points,” said Gabe Becker-Finn, the People Incorporated director of operations. “They go somewhere else or they find some sort of alternative, maybe less healthy behavior that they fall into.” REGIONAL NEWS To page 9

October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

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REGIONAL NEWS Social Security increase eyed


The facility has 13 beds, private bathrooms and stability. Becker-Finn said the South Minneapolis location, which is steps away from George Floyd Square, was picked with purpose. “There’s a lot of need here and it makes sense to put a place where it needs to be,” he said. “We’re right on the bus line. It’s really easy to access and it’s a community that we really want to be a part of.” Patients with the nonprofit said that opening another location will have a big impact on those struggling. “When you have severe depression, it can be really hard on you,” said Antoine Carter, a People Incorporated patient. Since Carter was a teenager, painful feelings and thoughts interrupted his daily life. “Things can be a lot better, but things can be a lot worse. It’s really hard for people who have mental health struggles,” Carter said. People Incorporated made it easier. Earlier this year, Carter stayed at a People Incorporated mental health care facility where he got short-term crisis services and long-term intensive treatment under the same roof. “In the past, if someone did that, they would have to go to a different facility, but it’s a lot easier when you do it this way,” he said. Becker-Finn explained he’s witnessed success stories where people move on and enter into recovery after using the services. Carter has seen it for himself. “I haven’t been in the psych ward since 2016. So I’m really glad about that and I can give a lot of that credit to People Incorporated,” he said. This is the fourth hybrid mental health care location People Incorporated has opened up in the state. (Source: KSTP-TV)

Allina physicians unionize Hundreds of Allina Health physicians have voted to be represented by a union, becoming what's believed to be the largest group of unionized private-sector physicians in the country. According to the National Labor Relations Board, the initial tally was 385-200 in favor of joining the Doctors Council SEIU Local 10MD. More than 150 nurse practitioners and physician assistants also voted in the election and are eligible to join the union. “We really hope through this process to improve various aspects of our working

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 71 million Americans will increase 3.2 percent in 2024. The 3.2 percent costof-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 66 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2024. Increased payments to approximately 7.5 million SSI recipients will begin on December 29, 2023. (Note that some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits.) The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $168,600. The earnings limit for workers who

are younger than full retirement age will increase to $22,320. (Social Security will deduct $1 from benefits for each $2 earned over $22,320.) The earnings limit for people reaching their full retirement age in 2024 will increase to $59,520. (Social Security deducts $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $59,520 until the month the worker turns full retirement age.) There is no limit on earnings for workers who are full retirement age or older for the entire year. Information about Medicare changes for 2024 will be available at www.medicare. gov. For Social Security beneficiaries

receiving Medicare, their new 2024 benefit amount will be available in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center. In December 2023, Social Security COLA notices will be available online to most beneficiaries in the Message Center of their My Social Security account. This is a secure, convenient way to receive COLA notices online and save the message for later. Be sure to choose the preferred way to receive courtesy notifications so that secure, convenient online COLA notice aren’t missed. (Source: Social Security Administration)

conditions that allows us to be better care providers for our patients and improve the quality of patient care that we are able to provide,” said Dr. Cora Walsh, a family physician with Allina Health. Walsh said that includes addressing pay and staffing shortages, which have persisted. Physician mental health is another issue. “Post pandemic, we just have not seen recovery because people left health care, and working conditions and pay have not improved enough to attract those people back into positions,” she said. Walsh said if staffing shortages persist, it will have a greater impact on patient care. “As I'm pulled away for more and more administrative work, I have less and less time available to give to face and face patient care. I have less time to call patients about their own lab results,” she said. In a statement, Allina Health expressed disappointment with the physicians' vote to unionize: “Allina Health is first and foremost deeply appreciative of the exceptional care our providers deliver to patients every day. We are also proud of our ongoing work regarding employee well-being. Allina Health has been nationally recognized as one of the top places to work in health care, with special attention for our efforts to support employee mental health.” “While we are disappointed in the decision by some of our providers to be represented by a union, we remain committed to our ongoing work to create a culture where all employees feel supported and valued. Our focus now is on moving forward to ensure the best interests of our employees, patients and the communities we serve.” The election must now be certified by the NLRB, and then contract negotiations can begin. (Source: Minnesota Public Radio)

to potential renters because they use public assistance to pay their rent or because of the requirements of a public assistance program. The amendments also prohibit property owners from imposing unique rental standards or otherwise treating potential public assistance renters differently from other renters. Families in Minneapolis who participate in public assistance programs face an especially challenging task of finding affordable housing in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority reports that it provides housing subsidies to approximately 8,550 families across Minneapolis. How do people submit a complaint? Renters who believe they have faced discrimination because of their use of public

assistance should contact the Civil Rights Department. Call 311 or 612-673-3012. File an online complaint form. File a complaint in person at the Civil Rights Department, City Hall, 350 S. 5th St. Room 239. Civil Rights staff members are planning an informational session in the community to educate people about the ordinance. The next session is 2-7 p.m. Monday, November 13, in the Plymouth room at the Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), 2001 Plymouth Ave. Learn more about the ordinance on the City’s website at https://www2.minneapolismn. gov/business-services/licenses-permitsinspections/rental-licenses/renter-protections/ public-assistance-housing/

Learn about housing issues The Minneapolis Civil Rights Department is educating renters and property owners about that city’s ordinance prohibiting public assistance discrimination in housing, including against those with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. The ordinance is now in effect and enforceable after facing years of legal challenges. The housing discrimination amendments to the civil rights ordinance, approved by the City Council in March 2017, prohibit property owners from denying public assistance participants the opportunity to apply for available housing or refusing to rent

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Volunteer readers needed Volunteers are needed at Minnesota Radio Talking Book to record books and periodicals for broadcast. Want to volunteer? Contact Roberta Kitlinski at 651-539-1423 or roberta. to learn more.

2022. Is understanding the science of attachment the key to building lasting friendships and finding “your people” in an ever-more-fragmented world? Read by Brenda Powell. 13 broadcasts; begins Mon, Nov. 20.

Learn more about Radio Talking Book Radio Talking Book is not just for listeners with visual disabilities. Anyone with difficulty reading or turning pages can enjoy the service. Enjoy programming on a hand-held mobile device, for either iOS or Android. Visit the Apple App Store for iOS, or Google Play for Android, and download the Minnesota Radio Talking Book app. The sampling published monthly in Access Press doesn’t represent the full array of programming. Listen to RTB’s live or archived programs online at, and learn more about programs. Missed a book broadcast? Access it for one week following its original broadcast in the online weekly program archive. For help accessing the archive, contact Ronnie Washington at 651-539-1424 or SSB. If the book’s broadcast is no longer available in the archive, contact staff librarian Dan Gausman at 651-539-1422 or dan.gausman@ Books broadcast on the Minnesota Radio Talking Book Network are available for loan through the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library in Faribault. The catalog is at Click on the link Search the Library Catalog. Call the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library at 800-722-0550, Mon-Fri, 9 am - 4 pm CST. For updates, go to the Facebook site Minnesota Radio Talking Book. Audio information about the daily book listings is on the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) Newsline. Register for NFB Newsline by calling 651-539-1424. The NFBNEWSLINE service provides access to more than 500 magazines and newspapers. To learn more, visit

Past is Prologue* Monday – Friday 11 a.m. The Story of Russia, nonfiction by American Midnight, nonfiction by Adam Hochschild, 2022. A reassessment of the overlooked period between World War I and the Roaring Twenties, when the foundations of American democracy were threatened by war, pandemic and violence fueled by battles over race, immigration and the rights of labor. Read by Jim Gregorich. 15 broadcasts; begins Wed, Nov. 1. Persians: The Age of Great Kings, nonfiction by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, 2022. A stunning portrait of the magnificent splendor and enduring legacy of ancient Persia. Read by Parichay Rudina. 20 broadcasts; begins Wed, Nov. 22.

Chautauqua* Monday – Friday 6 a.m. Platonic, nonfiction by Marisa G. Franco,

Bookworm* Monday – Friday 12 p.m. Gods and Mortals, fiction by Sarah Iles Johnston, 2023. An entrancing new telling of ancient Greek myths. Read by Yelva Lynfield. 23 broadcasts; begins Wed, Nov. 1.n Lee. Nine broadcasts; begins Thu, Oct. 19. Choice Reading Monday – Friday 2 p.m. The Lawless Land (rebroadcast), fiction by Boyd & Beth Morrison, 2022. A fast-paced medieval adventure about a young knight reclaiming his family’s land and reputation. Read by Yelva Lynfield. 19 broadcasts; begins Wed, Nov. 1. The Crane Husband, fiction by Kelly Barnhill, 2023. A brilliant and subversive reimagining of a familiar fairy tale The Crane Wife, where a fiercely pragmatic teen will do whatever it takes to protect her family. Read by Peter Danbury. Four broadcasts; begins Tue, Nov. 28. Afternoon Report* Monday – Friday 4 p.m. True Story (rebroadcast), nonfiction by Danielle J. Lindemann, 2022. A sociological study of reality TV that explores its rise as a

culture-dominating medium―and what the genre reveals about our attitudes toward race, gender, class, and sexuality. Read by Michele Potts. Nine broadcasts; begins Mon, Nov. 13. The Bill of Obligations, nonfiction by Richard Haass, 2023. A provocative guide to how we must re-envisi-on citizenship if American democracy is to survive. Read by Michele Potts. Four broadcasts; begins Mon, Nov. 27. Night Journey* Monday – Friday 7 p.m. Godspeed (rebroadcast), fiction by Nickolas Butler, 2021. Three troubled construction workers get entangled in a dangerous plan against an impossible deadline. Read by Jim Gregorich. 11 broadcasts; begins Mon, Nov. 13. Dark Angel, fiction by John Sandford, 2023. Letty Davenport, the tough-as-nails adopted daughter of Lucas Davenport, takes on an undercover assignment that brings her across the country and into the crosshairs of a dangerous group of hackers. Read by Rick Seime. 11 broadcasts; begins Tue, Nov. 28. – L Off the Shelf* Monday – Friday 8 p.m. The Strange Inheritance of Leah Fern, fiction by Rita Zoey Chin, 2022. A luminous coming of age story about a fiercely lonely young woman's quest to uncover the truth behind her mother's disappearance. Read by Tom Taintor. 11 broadcasts; begins Tue, Nov. 7. – L The Thing in the Snow, fiction by Sean Adams, 2023. A thought-provoking and wryly funny novel—equal parts satire and psychological thriller—that holds a funhouse mirror to the isolated workplace and an age of endless distraction. Read by Therese Murray. Eight broadcasts; begins Wed, Nov. 22. Potpourri* Monday – Friday 9 p.m. The Wondering Mind, nonfiction by Jamie Kreiner, 2023. A revelatory account of how Christian monks identified distraction as a fundamental challenge―and how their efforts to defeat it can inform ours, more than a millennium later. Read by Jim Ahrens. Six broadcasts; begins Wed, Nov. 8. The Socratic Method (rebroadcast), nonfiction by Ward Farnsworth, 2021. A thinking

Abbreviations V – violent content R – racial epithets L – strong language S – sexual situation G – gory descriptions person’s guide to a better life that explains what the Socratic method is, how it works, and why it matters more than ever in our time. Read by Stevie Ray. 11 broadcasts; begins Thu, Nov. 16. Good Night Owl* Monday – Friday 10 p.m. Bad Cree, fiction by Jessica Johns, 2023. A young Cree woman’s dreams lead her on a perilous journey of self-discovery that ultimately forces her to confront the toll of a legacy of violence on her family, her community, and the land they call home. Read by Carol McPherson. 10 broadcasts; begins Mon, Nov. 6. – L Bad Sex, nonfiction by Nona Willis Aronowitz, 2022. A blend of memoir, social history, and cultural criticism that probes the meaning of desire and sexual freedom today. Read by Tamara Pratt. 11 broadcasts; begins Mon, Nov. 20. – L, S RTB After Hours* Monday – Friday 11 p.m. Maggie Moves On, fiction by Lucy Score, 2022. A house-flipping YouTube star and laid-back contractor—Can these opposites turn up the heat . . . without burning down the house? Read by Michelle Juntunen. 15 broadcasts; begins Mon, Nov. 20. – L, S Weekend Program Books Your Personal World, 1 p.m. Sat, presents The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama, read by Beverly Burchett. For the Younger Set, 11 a.m. Sun, presents Windswept by Margi Preus, read by Laura Young; followed by Controlled Burn by Erin Soderberg Downing, read by Laura Young. Poetic Reflections, noon Sun, presents Homes by Moheb Soliman, read by Mary Knatterud. The Great North, 4 p.m. Sun. presents Born of Lakes and Plains by Anne F. Hyde, read by Tony Lopez. .



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October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10

ENJOY! Open Flow Forum The Artists with Disabilities Alliance meets via Zoom 7-9 p.m. the first Thu of the month. Upcoming dates are Nov. 2 and Dec. 7. Virtually join artists with disabilities and supporters to share visual art, writing, music, theater and artistic efforts or disability issues. Facilitators are Tara Innmon and Andy Sturdevant from Springboard for the Arts. Anyone needing accommodations including ASL interpreting or captioning should contact Sturdevant at Springboard. Funding is available for access needs. FFI: 651-2940907,, Resources to Enjoy! The Enjoy listings are for arts events as well as banquets, fundraisers, walks and other fun events by and for disability services organizations. Schedules may be subject to change, so check with a venue or organization before making plans. Arrange for disability accommodations well in advance at any event. Disability service organizations typically send e-news blasts and have social media.

Both are other ways to find out about events. The Minnesota Access Alliance (MNAA) provides an Accessible Arts & Culture Calendar for arts patrons who use accessibility accommodations such as audio description, captioning, ASL interpreting and sensory-friendly accommodations. Link to more details at https://calendar.mnaccess. org. Be sure to check the listing or venue to find out any COVID-19 protocols and if an advance reservation is needed for an accessibility service. Accessible events can be submitted to the MNAA Calendar (and To receive a free monthly events calendar, email and/or info@ Ask for the entire events list or specific lists for ASL interpreting, captioning, audio description, sensory-friendly accommodations or disability-related topics. For other accessibility resources or upcoming webinars presented by MNAA, sign up for emails at Post your event online Access Press is moving more event listings online with our redesigned website. There is

OPPORTUNITIES Open House Can Do Canines hosts an open house Open house noon-2 p.m. Sat, Nov. 11 at its campus at 9440 Science Center Drive, New Hope. Potential clients, volunteers, or anyone who might be interested in supporting the organization is invited to attend to learn how an assistance dog changes the life of a person with a disability. Through a self-guided tour, attendees will be able to watch a trainer working with an assistance dog, talk with a dog host volunteer and staff members from the volunteer department, pose questions to client services

AROUND THE DIAL Access Press is interested in listing regularly scheduled broadcast, cablecast or podcast programs by and for people with disabilities. Programming needs to have a tie to Minnesota or the Upper Midwest. Around the Dial is published on a spaceavailable basis. Anyone with questions can contact Disability and Progress KFAI Radio, 6-7 p.m. Thu. Host Sam


From page 7 Appointees are announced Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have announced appointments to many Minnesota boards, commissions and committees, including groups that serve Minnesotans with disabilities. New and returning members were announced for the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. Jason Blomquist, Minneapolis, was reappointed as a consumer member. Connie Rabideaux, Cloquet, was reappointed as a parent member. Mary Raasch, Maplewood, will represent adults with developmental disabilities. Raasch replaced Reid Scheller. The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities works to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and their families receive the necessary supports and services to achieve increased independence, productivity, selfdetermination, integration and inclusion in their community. Several people were appointed to the Statewide Independent Living Council. Together with the centers for independent

coordinators, and meet graduate teams from each of the five types of areas Can Do Canines trains dogs: hearing, mobility, seizure, diabetes, and childhood autism. The assistance dog demonstrations will be held at 12:15, 12:55, and 1:35 p.m., and the dog host will speak at 12:15, 12:35, and 1:15 p.m. There is no pre-registration for this event, though attendees will be asked to share some contact information when arriving. FFI:


NAMI conference Nov. 4 The NAMI Minnesota annual state Jasmine and her guests explore a wide range of topics that are important to people with disabilities. Shows are now available on podcast. Ask the smart speaker to play Disability and Progress podcast for the latest episode. For easier access, download the app to a smart phone and hear shows on demand. Or hear Disability and Progress stream live, just tell the smart speaker to play KFAI radio. KFAI is at 90.3 FM in Minneapolis and 106.7 FM in St. Paul. Listeners outside of the Twin Cities, or those looking for a past show, will find the show’s archives online at Email disabilityandprogress@samjasmine. com with questions and suggestions, or call 612-341-3144. Postal mail can be sent to KFAI, 1808 Riverside Ave. S., Disability and Progress, Box 116, Minneapolis MN 55454. Conor’s Corner Conor’s Corner by Conor O’Meara can be heard at 10 a.m. Mon, replayed 8 a.m. Sat, at 94.1 or Frogtown Community Radio. The show can also be found on Spotify and Mixcloud. Find the radio station at living, the Statewide Independent Living Council develops the state plan for independent living Jennifer Clement, Minneapolis, was appointed to the council to replace Lisa Harvey. Monique Doward, Kettle River, replaced Haley Kimmet. Crystal Hellekson, Grand Forks, replaced Julia Washenberger. Anne Paulson, St. Paul, replaced Gloria Lafriniere. KiloMarie Granda, Morris, was appointed to replace Linda Lingen. Granda represents the State Rehabilitation Council. Jacob Schuller, was appointed as center director representative, and replaced Bonnie Danberry The Minnesota State Academies Board also has a new member. Sara Pratt, Dundas, is the new special education director member. Pratted replaced Nicole Halabi. The Board of the Minnesota State Academies governs the state academies for the Deaf and Blind. The State Advisory Council on Mental Health has new and returning members. The council is charged with advising the governor and state agencies on policy, programs, and services affecting people with mental illness as well as educating the public about mental health. Jessica Gourneau, Maplewood, is the American Indian Mental Health Advisory Council representative. This is a new council seat. Jennifer Springer, Edina, was reappointed

Pg 11

DSAMn Pancake Breakfast The Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota hosts its annual pancake breakfast fundraiser 8 a.m. to noon, Sun, Nov 12 at Bloomington Event Center, 1114 American Boulevard West, Bloomington. Costs are $5 for children 3-12, $9 for children and adults ages 13 and up. The open-house style event is a great place to meet friends, participate in crafts and games, and enjoy some great food. But tickets in advance or at the door. FFI: https:// weblink.aspx?name=E11535&id=152 a word limit and we ask that those posting information include event costs as well as accommodations. Are ASL and AD offered? Is there companion seating? A quiet room? Fidgets? COVID-19 protocols? Accommodations are much more than a ramp for many of us. That kind of information can help someone decide whether or not to attend an event. To post an event, go to www.accesspress.

org, click the resources tab at top right, and go to the post an event line. Consider that a small web or print ad can also generate interest in an upcoming event. For questions about ads, email ads@ Access Press reserves the right to reject events if they do not meet our guidelines. Call 651-644-2133 ext. one or email jane@ with events questions.

conference is Sat, Nov. 4 this year at St. Paul RiverCentre. The day-long event features many speakers and resources, as well as CEU credits. Tickets are still available. FFI:

Question, Persuade and Refer, a special QPR class for Agricultural Communities and many more. NAMI Minnesota’s Online Support Groups moved to a new and improved platform, HeyPeers. HeyPeers provides a safe, easy to access environment exclusively designed for online support group meetings. The classes and online support groups are designed for family members and caregivers, persons living with a mental illness, service providers, and also the general public. Find a complete listing of these classes and how to join in by going to and clicking on “Classes” or go straight to

Info & Assistance

Many classes available NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has set up a wide variety of free and in-person online mental health classes. Choices include Hope for Recovery, Transitions, Ending the Silence, Understanding Early Episode Psychosis for Families, In Our Own Voice, Family to Family, Positive Psychology, Creating Caring Communities, smoking cessation, a suicide prevention class called QPR – The on-air studio line, offered 10-11 a.m. Mon, is 651-313-5125. O’Meara conducts a wide range of interviews, talks about what is going on in his life and even sings a little Elvis Presley when the time is right. T-shirts from the show are for sale at the St. Paul Highland Park Lund’s & Byerly’s store. HoodWave Disability Radio Daniel and Leah Hood produce HoodWave Disability Radio. Anyone who wants to be a part of HoodWave can contact them. Find HoodWave radio at https://www.hoodwave. org/p/hoodwave-disability-radio-live/ or Disability Channel Minnesota Disability Landscape/Disability Channel Minnesota is available on a YouTube channel and on MCMN 6. Mark Knutson,

Charlie Brose and their team are regularly posting shows. They are looking for contributors to the channel. Contact them at Disability Viewpoints Disability Viewpoints is an awardwinning public access television show by and for people with disabilities. Mark Hughes and his team of cohosts feature current news, interesting people and groups, and events in Minnesota’s disability community. The show is produced by volunteers. Find the program at MCN 6, on YouTube @Disability Viewpoints and on community access channels. Some older shows are also archived on YouTube. Visit the show’s Facebook page at disabilityviewpoints



METES & BOUNDS MANAGEMENT Company manages the following Section 8 & Section 42 (Tax Credit) properties in Minnesota. Income and rent restrictions apply. Section 8 Boardwalk Wayzata 952-473-0502 Dewey Place/The Pines Foley 320-968-7791 Greenwood Wadena 218-631-2575 Highwood Homes Prior Lake 952-447-6961 Linderhof Park New Ulm 507-354-5964 Mission Oaks Plymouth 763-559-5770 Rustic Creek Two Harbors 218-595-1018 Todd 27 Long Prairie 320-732-6154 Town Square East Grand Forks 218-773-3631 Victory Duluth 218-722-2629 Section 42 (Tax Credit) Abbott Apartments Mpls 612-338-5588 Crosby Country Crosby 218-546-8400 Eastwood Village Oakdale 651-773-1949 Nature's Edge St. Cloud 320-203-7726 Parkside Rochester 507-281-9003 Valley High Rochester 507-536-4797 Valley View Byron 507-775-2821 Metes & Bounds is an equal housing opportunity housing company FIND YOUR NEW HOME WITH AT HOME APARTMENTS. Call 651-224-1234 or visit for an apartment or town home Equal Opportunity Housing


One-level accessible townhome -3472 Silver Ln, St. Anthony. Priced to sell at $255,000. Two beds/1 ba/den w/walkout to deck - 48" wide hallways-accessible sinks-440lb ceiling lift track from master to bathroom-walk-in luxury tub-electric blinds. Updated roof 2015-updated windows-updated water softener. A must see. Call Deb Norgaard-Realty One Group Choice 612.418.7228 for private showing.


Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid seeks Executive Director. 10 years legal practice, licensed in Minnesota or eligible, strong fundraising experience and understanding of MMLA's work. $125-$145K plus benefits. Apply by 11/20:

Classified rates: $20 (first 12 words); $1/word beyond 12. Email classified to Deadline: 20th of each month. We will email total cost of classified ad.

October 2023 Volume 34, Number 10 Pg 12




Access Press received a Community Engagement and Diverse Media Grant from the Minnesota Department of Health to provide information about COVID-19 and vaccinations to our readers and the community of people with disabilities. This is the first of many informational items we will share with you.


SOURCE FOR MYTHS AND FACTS: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


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