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Steven Douglas Taylor, 67, also known as “Doc,” is a local boy. Wounded in Vietnam during his service with the U.S. Navy, he came home to Woodland where he was born, just eight blocks from the Yolo Adult Day Health Center he now attends.
For those unfamiliar with day care for adults, in Yolo County, the vision was born in the 1970s, with a group of forward-thinking residents who wanted to help frail and disabled adults remain in the community; prevent deterioration of cognitive, functional and emotional health; and avoid unnecessary institutionalization.
In 1983, this group became Friends of Adult Day Health Care, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization. The Yolo Adult Day Health Center opened the following year, becoming the first built-to-purpose adult day health center in California. The Friends group has been the primary fundraising body ever since.
Doc was a football player in high school; he enlisted in the Navy after graduation, then trained as a Navy corpsman. He served as an operating room technician before being shipped out to Vietnam. After just five months in country, he was severely wounded by a land-mine explosion on Sept. 12, 1970.
He was transported to Da Nang, Vietnam, and later to Yokosuka, Japan, for a month of treatment until he was stable enough to make the journey home. Doc recalls precisely that he was in the Navy “for three years, one month, 26 days, four hours and 32 minutes.”
The explosion left Doc a hemiparetic, the left side of his body paralyzed, similar to a stroke. Jokingly, he refers to his condition as a “synthetic stroke.”
Then pausing, he recalls with pain, “Five men died that night. I was the only one out of a group of six (to survive). That’s where it hurts, ‘cause I have that guilt that I’ll have the rest of my life. Why not me?”
Heartache and pain followed him home. Engaged before he was deployed, he recalls his fiancée informing him, “I’m not going to marry a cripple.”
More surgeries and extensive therapy followed at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland and Fort Miley Medical Hospital in San Francisco. Another brain surgery followed to put a plate in his head.
Following his discharge from the Navy in 1973, his close-knit family continued to care for him, especially his devoted mom.
Now with his parents deceased, he has a caregiver and is one of 90 participants at Yolo Adult Day Health Center, seven of whom are veterans. Demand for center services is great, with more than 60 people on the waiting list.
“Anything you need” is how he describes his care at the center. Dawn Myers Purkey, the center’s program director, and a team of dedicated professionals provide a comprehensive package of clinical and supportive services. The nursing staff monitors his 19 chronic health conditions and assists with medication management.
Physical therapy includes working on his endurance using an exercycle, and mat work to strengthen his core. Occupational therapy provides massages for contractions of his hand and helps him put on a splint.
Counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, monitoring for depression and oversight of home caregivers are provided by social services staff. Other staff assist with personal care, recreation therapy, a healthy lunch and transportation. All support is designed to enhance his quality of life and optimize his independence at home.
Steven Taylor, better known as Doc, chats with nursing student Jessica Zeno at the Yolo Adult Day Health Center in Woodland.
Doc — who was wounded in a land-mine explosion in Vietnam and suffered paralysis on his left side — works on an exercycle at the Yolo Adult Day Health Center.
What would life be like for Doc without the center? He believes he’d probably be dead in two weeks.
“To me, this is recess for adults” he says. “It’s where we can all get together with cronies of our own age.”
Doc wishes the center, which operates at full capacity five days a week, could be expanded and that more such centers would open. Aware that thousands in Yolo County are in need of these services he sometimes feels guilty, thinking he might be taking the space of someone who needs the place as much, if not more, than he does.
Unfortunately, the funding from Medi-Cal and other sources is not sufficient to cover the center’s operating costs.
His advice to his fellow Yolo County residents? “Give now, ‘cause someday you’re going to need this place as much as me.”
Operating at one-quarter the cost of a skilled nursing facility, decreasing emergency and hospital visits, the Yolo Adult Day Health Center provides significant savings to taxpayers.
Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 1964, Woodland, CA 95776; online at friendsofadultdayhealth.org; or by phone at 530-666-8828. The center also is participating in the 2017 Big Day of Giving on Thursday, May 4; donate there at www.bigdayofgiving.org/fadhc.