May 02, 2020
We know that we grieve with the families of the individuals who have died and we grieve with the staff who did their best. We celebrate the individuals who were ill and have gotten better.
Most of all we celebrate all the staff who come to work every day, afraid of what the day might bring, but determined to make it the best day they can for the individuals we support, to provide the needed therapy for the child who is challenged and can not go to school, help the individual who lives in their own apartment get to the store for groceries, and so much more.
And we cheer the agency leadership who, on a daily basis, navigate very troubled waters to keep the agencies functioning, staff supported as far as the dollars will stretch and plan for tomorrow when things are bound to be better!
And we have data!
- Early next week we should be able to publish the DBHDS data on confirmed cases and deaths in our service community; preliminary numbers indicate that strategies put in place by providers in the first few weeks have contained the number of outbreaks in residential services.
- We have now both state level and national data on the cost of those strategies both in real dollars and in service disruptions and staff furloughs/dismissals.
- ANCOR has published a study which drew responses from all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico and Guam. The questions were slightly different than what VNPP asked in the end of March and again this week but the findings are essentially identical! Read the ANCOR Survey Results here.
- The results of the two VNPP surveys show the following:
- Closures of programs occurred, for the most part, in March and have continued through the month of April. The most significant impacts are obvious – loss of the service for the individual, reductions or relocation of staff, and most important, the loss of revenue to contribute to ongoing operations.
- Behavioral Health providers have been able to adapt some services using telehealth, however, the barriers to providing services in that modality, coupled with the lack of certainty about what may come tomorrow and the significantly reduced revenue has made ongoing operations tenuous for some.
- The services which have not closed, primarily residential, are overwhelmed with individuals home all the time, staffing shortages which are a constant factor in this service system compounded by fear and fatigue. The higher costs for staffing and COVID related supplies and PPE have, for the most part, prevented any extra pay, bonuses or other incentives to reward the staff for their hard work.
- In both VNPP surveys 70% reported that they either have exhausted their resources or would do so in the next few months which is slightly longer than is reported in the ANCOR study.
The damage to the system will not magically disappear when the Governor lifts restrictions, it will take time, patience and financial support to build it back to what it was, and begin to look ahead to what it could be!