Last November, the City of Carson imposed a $70 monthly fee to the Joseph B. Jr. and Mary Anne O’Neal Stroke Center for visitors from outside the city. Carson residents continue to participate free.
Carson’s stroke center, one of only two such facilities in Southern California, helps survivors of stroke regain physical abilities and build a community of support. The other center is in Palm Springs. Many of the stroke survivors in the Center’s database are considered low income or live on a fixed income. Some became permanently disabled, while others became full-time caregivers for their loved ones.
The $70 monthly fee quickly proved a financial hardship for most non-resident stroke survivors resulting in reduced participation, and during the past 16 months, overall attendance decreased by 48 percent. “The decision by the council destroyed our family,” said President of the Stroke Center Volunteer Association Dr. Sharma Henderson of the fees.
Henderson joined Stroke Center patients and advocates who rallied at the city’s March 5 council meeting to call upon the city to remove the non-resident fee. More than a dozen patients and advocates spoke passionately at the council meeting.
After lengthy discussion, the Council voted unanimously to remove the fees with a notation that priority for the Stroke Center be reserved for Carson residents.
At the council’s March 19 meeting, Henderson returned to thank the council and note that staff had been calling previous patients to “tell them to come home” to the Center.
She announced a free concert would be planned to fundraise to support the Stroke Center.