Nonprofits say they’re the forgotten part of the healthcare system in this coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus

CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — Community Health Resources serves 26,000 patients a year in Connecticut and help with everything from mental health issues to substance abuse treatment all over the state.

During the coronavirus pandemic, their job has become even more crucial.

“It’s an accurate characterization to say that everybody is under a lot of stress,” said Heather Gates, the CEO of Community Health Resources.

Her nonprofit and others are trying to provide services, but staff shortages, screening issues and lots of logistical problems like no COVID-19 test kits are not making it easy.

“That’s been a real impediment because that means we are trying to make decisions on programs and staffing without good epidemiological information on what’s happening,” said a frustrated Gates.

Adding to the danger is that their workers can’t get access to protective gear like gloves and gowns.

“We’re not the hospital, we aren’t the clinic that’s out there so as a function of that we haven’t had access to personal protective equipment,” said Barry Simon, CEO Oak Hill.

Gian Carl Casa, President of The Alliance, said nonprofits are really people who are dedicated to the missions of their organizations.

Through Skype, Casa said a huge issue is staff and client exposure.

“It’s not exactly clear what an organization would do, if for instance in a group home or residence if one person is possibly sick does that mean both staff and residents become quarantined?”

Brian Naylor with the Centers for Independent Living said his agency is a catchall. They have five centers around the state. When people with disabilities call about housing and Medicaid benefits, if his group doesn’t have the answers, they will connect clients to those who do.

Many nonprofits are funded through state contracts and have no cash reserves. Community Health Resources said it received $37 million in Government Grants, $16 million in fees by clients and third parties and $5 million in private grants and contributions for a total of $58 million. Their operating expenses are $57 million.

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