Lack of state funding forces United Helpers to close RiverLedge adult center in Ogdensburg, displacing 28 residents
By JIMMY LAWTON
OGDENSBURG – Despite efforts to increase state support to increase funding for adult centers, RiverLedge’s adult center will close after 39 years.
“We met with residents and families to help them make new living arrangements. We are going to assist them through the process,” United Helpers CEO Steve Knight said.“It’s an incredibly sad day for residents families for us at United Helpers. This is a very much needed service (for those) who didn’t need nursing care but couldn’t live alone safely,” he said.
Knight said the adult home was forced to shut down due to a lack of funding. He said the reimbursement was never sustainable, amounting to just over $40 per day to provide 24/7 onsite services including three meals, medication reminders, case management and other services.
“Even when the program started, the reimbursement wasn’t good. But state reimbursement did not increase on a regular basis and it continued to lose ground,” he said.
Knight said United Helpers was the last facility of its kind in St. Lawrence County because the not-for-profit worked to make it more sustainable though shared services and a program where meals made there were sold to other facilities.
“That’s why we were the last to close,” he said.
Knight said United Helpers and other organizations have been working to convince state representatives to increase funding for years, but have not been successful. He said those efforts will continue despite the closure.
He said there are other programs funded by the same formula as well that are staying afloat now, but could be at risk down the road if the state doesn’t take action.
Knight said RiverLedge’s adult center had 28 residents with a capacity for 40. It also employed 15 people. Fortunately, Knight said, the staff will have the opportunity to stay with company despite the facility closure.
“It’s tough for everyone. I can’t tell you how many comments and accolades I received from the people who lived there and their families about how great the staff was. They said the staff make this place home,” he said.