Thursday, November 27, 2008

Budget Cuts in Real Time: What Does It Mean in Worcester County?

I've been collecting a bit more information from the folks in Worcester County about the impact of the Governor's 9C cuts and what they mean to people.  Community Healthlink was in the T&G on Nov 3.  Of course, that was the day before election day, so I am not sure if it was widely read.  According to the article (now archived from the website), CHL is closing 4 programs and reducing the scope of others:
SIZE OF CUT:  $637,000, or 3.4 percent of the $19 million received from the EOHHS.  But, since the year is already half done, and the cuts are permanent, this translates to the loss of  40 of the nearly 1,000 Community Healthlink jobs and the reduction of a  $48 million budget to $46 million. 
  • Gateway Resources. Begun as The Gathering Tree about 30 years ago, the day program at 162 Chandler St. provides rehabilitation for 50 people with serious mental illness.   It is funded with $291,000 a year and will close at the end of this month.
  • Nuevos Horizontes, a Spanish-speaking version of Gateways that is open three days a week. Its yearly funding is $134, 445.   Nuveos’ 20 clients also have mental illnesses,  whose coping skills are limited by language barriers.
  • Vocational training programs for people with serious mental illness. The programs, called SEE, are located in Worcester ($356,276 a year) and Leominster ($263,983 a year). The programs help people with serious mental illness find and maintain jobs.  The programs support 60 people in Worcester and 51 in Leominster. 
  • Outpatient substance abuse programs in the Thayer Building at 12 Queen St. The Department of Public Health will cut $45,000 of the $55,000 it has been providing, which is about 15 percent of the program’s total funding.
  • Westwinds Clubhouse, 545 Westminster Road, Fitchburg, cut by $18,000. The clubhouse will continue to operate, but possibly with fewer than the 50 to 60 hours over six days per week that it is now open. 
  • Outpatient Mental Health Services:  Reductions in MassHealth rates will affect revenue from CHL’s 15,000-patient outpatient mental health services, two-thirds of whose clients are MassHealth clients; CHL’s 45-bed detoxification facility, which serves 3,800 people a year in the Thayer Building; and a two-week community-based acute treatment program for children at CHL’s 15-bed Burncoat Family Center, 227 Burncoat St. 
That is a big hit to a bunch of programs that are in bad shape already.  Much bigger than you would think when you hear the words "3%" cut.  Not that the cuts weren't equally severe in other areas, but it is important to bear witness.

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