DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) -Governor DeWine’s latest order closes adult day services across the state, affecting more than 26,000 adults with developmental disabilities.
Adult Day Support and Vocational Habitation Services will close their doors effective Tuesday March 24 at 9 pm to prevent further community spread of COVID-19.
This is all happening in the middle of March which is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
Those who work tirelessly to serve that population at United Rehabilitation Services of Dayton are now worried about the future of the more than 200 adults who rely on their services.
The adults who use URS’s services range in age from 18 to mid-80’s according to Dennis Grant, executive Director of URS. There are also many that have other illnesses that make them vulnerable to the COVID-19 infection.
For this reason and more, URS decided to close their doors on March 16, ahead of Governor DeWine’s order. They were planning to reopen on March 30, but now they are uncertain of when doors will reopen so they have turned to working on ways to support the adults they serve and their families during the shut down.
“We think that by providing remote operations [and] possibly sending individual staff into people’s homes just for 2 or 3 hours a day…to give the parents the chance to go to the grocery store, to go to a doctors appointment…anything we can do to support the family is going to be really critical,” said Grant.
They are also planning to use Facetime, Skype, phone calls and other forms of technology to stay connected with those who use the services.
URS offers these adults a place to gather, talk and learn. However, the shutdown now poses a challenge to these social interactions since more than 10 people are not allowed to gather in one place.
“Social isolation for some of our folks is truly a threatening thing,” said Grant. “Many of the individuals we serve with developmental disabilties…if you look statistically, about 40 percent of the adults with a developmental disability have a mental health problem, usually that’s depression or anxiety.”
Grant says the state is offering relief so that nurses and other staff can continue providing services.
“The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has agreed to pay us for 2 weeks of what our average billing would be while we’re trying to regroup and figure out what the future looks like and whether you can actually generate any kind of revenue,” said Grant.
But Grant does say that they are afraid of losing the talented nurses and staff that are usually employed at URS to other jobs as the doors remain closed.
“We’ve got to figure out how we can sustain organizations like the United Rehabilitation Services because there are literally hundreds of others around the state serving tens of thousands of individuals with adults with developmental disabilities,” said Grant.