Uncertainty is difficult for any business but for those who provide services to those in need, there’s a ripple effect.
Network Day Service Center provides adult day care for between 90 and 100 people with a variety of developmental disabilities. Director Jenny Shealy made the call last Monday to shut down her agency on West Tenth Street in Rome.
The shutdown has created several issues.
First, the clients have no place to go during the day, which leads to hardships for their caregivers.
Then it starts to snowball, because the clients who usually go out on work crews don’t earn income. The businesses they service aren’t getting those services — primarily housekeeping. And the agency isn’t getting any reimbursement because it bills the government based on the number of clients it sees daily.
Shealy said the caregivers keep asking questions about how long the shutdown is going to last and she is at a loss to provide an answer.
“I’m just going to be making that decision about every two weeks,” Shealy said. “I tell them you’re reading the same news I am.”
The clients themselves are calling Shealy almost every day.
“They just don’t understand why their daily routine is being disrupted,” Shealy said.
She estimates as many as 75% of their clients fall into one of the high-risk categories for COVID-19 infection, which is why she simply cannot take a chance on keeping the center open, or reopening, until the emergency is over.
Another problem related to the Network Day Service shutdown is that many of their clients live in group homes. Now those homes have to be staffed 24 hours a day, whereas in the past, they may not have had to have someone there during the hours when the residents are at the day service center.
“It’s really putting an additional burden on them,” Shealy said.
The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is working with federal officials to see what can be done about funding agencies like hers. But Shealy said the lockdown has just about put any of their fundraising activities on hold as well.
While they have been able to put away some money over the last seven years, she said that won’t last forever.
Jacob Allmon, the relatively new head of Floyd Training and Service Center, 1201 Maple Ave., is in an identical situation.
His facility has a staff of around 20 and serves between 50 and 55 developmentally disabled individuals on a daily basis. Like the day services center, his reimbursement is on a fee-for-service model — and when there is no service being provided, no fees are being generated.
“We are currently trying to prevent laying off employees,” Allmon said.
The Georgia Department of Community Health and other state agencies are considering an application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a waiver. If approved, it would lift some regulations and open up financial resources during the period of time when the agency is not seeing clients on a daily basis.
“None of us really know what that’s going to look like,” Allmon said. “We’ve had a little glimmer of hope, but we don’t know when it’s coming.”