Polk adult daycare announces closure

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Polk County to fund center for six months

Polk County Commissioners agreed to fund the adult daycare center up to six months after Rutherford Life Services Inc. announced that it is closing the doors Nov. 30.
Commissioners met Monday, Nov. 4 and heard from Rutherford Life Services Executive Director Larry Brown, who announced the closing of the Life Care Adult Day Health Center.
Commissioners said the center is near and dear to them and the county worked really hard to get the center open. They said they feel there is a need in Polk County for the service. Commissioners agreed to pay up to $3,500 a month to operate it for up to six months, or up to $21,000 total.
Commissioner Tom Pack asked Brown if Rutherford Life Services would continue to operate the center if the county paid to operate it and asked how much that would be.
Brown said Rutherford Life would continue to operate it but the costs are high. He said this fiscal year alone for three months the center is running at an approximate $9,000 deficit. He estimated the costs to operate are between $3,000 and $3,500 per month.
The county will begin funding the center beginning in December. The county plans to approve where the money will come from at its next meeting.
Brown explained that reductions in available funds and low enrollment numbers make the closing necessary.
“Rutherford Life Services Inc. has, since the inception of the Polk Adult Day Health Care program provided financial support in an amount in excess of $100,000 but we can no longer continue to do so,” Brown told commissioners. “We will work closely with the families of those who currently attend the day program to find appropriate services and will likewise work closely with funding agencies to address those participant’s and family caregiver needs. Should you choose another provider to operate the facility, we will cooperate fully in any transition planning and implementation.”
Polk’s adult day center is licensed for 24 participants, but Brown said the daily attendance has dropped to between eight and 12 people, with 18 enrolled.
Pack said he thinks the county needs to keep it open in some form or fashion.
Commissioner Ted Owens agreed with Pack, saying there is a need for the service in Polk County.
“I share Pack’s wanting to keep it open if we can,” said Owens. “I really feel like there’s a need here for it.”
Owens also said he thought the center remaining open is important for caregivers. It’s also important to give them more than a month’s notice when the service is ending and give the county time to try to get another provider to run the service, Owens said.
Commissioner Ray Gasperson said the center is near and dear to him and a “Godsend” for those who need it.
Life Care Adult Day Health Center opened in December 2011 after a unique public/private partnership.
Polk County provided the building and through fundraising and grants did renovations for an adult daycare. The center is located directly behind the Meeting Place Senior Center, off Skyuka Road in Columbus.
The building was named after Don and Betsy Freeman following Betsy Freeman requesting the county create an adult daycare. She was the caregiver for her husband Don, who unfortunately passed away before to the center’s opening.
Betsy Freeman spearheaded fundraising to open the center.
Polk County contracted with Rutherford Life Services to operate the center, which has been providing services for disabled participants for more than 40 years and has operated adult daycare centers for more than a decade. Rutherford Life Services also operates a sister facility in Spindale, N.C..
Rutherford Life Services’ life care programs are designed to provide a safe environment for impaired adults to delay and/or prevent nursing home placement.
Services at the center include nursing care, personal care, activities, exercise and social events during daytime hours to allow caregivers to maintain employment.

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