Federal reps assist special needs groups during pandemic
HURLEYVILLE – The Center for Discovery (“The Center,” TCFD) in Hurleyville, has expressed sincere gratitude to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Congressman Antonio Delgado (D-NY) for their steadfast support of the most vulnerable population in the state, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization urges more support for those with complex conditions.
“Senator Schumer and his staff have been remarkable in their response to our needs. They and Congressman Delgado’s team have carefully listened and truly understand the extreme measures necessary to protect and care for the complex and medically fragile residents of The Center. Additionally, they understand the burden of these extra costs on organizations like TCFD. We couldn’t be more grateful for the Senator’s and Congressman’s assistance in reaching out to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and his staff,” said Patrick H. Dollard, TCFD President and CEO. He added, “It is important for those in power to understand that our population is the most vulnerable to COVID-19. A new study revealed that those with developmental disabilities living in group homes are four times as likely to contract the coronavirus and two times as likely to die. These are staggering numbers. There are many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have been working with us on behalf of the most vulnerable. Caring for those with special needs during this crisis is not a partisan issue, it is a moral imperative.”
“From the earliest days of this pandemic, I have worked with The Center for Discovery to make sure that its thousands of residents with complex conditions and 1,700 employees responding on the frontlines to this crisis in Sullivan County are cared for and protected. The team at The Center for Discovery are more than caretakers for those with special needs, they have become second family to residents who haven’t been able to see their loved ones for three months because of high-risk of exposure to COVID-19. The Center has not only provided around-the-clock care and support services to these vulnerable patients but has also kept its frontline employees in mind, working with my team almost daily to address PPE shortages, funding opportunities, policy issues, and more,” said United States Senator Charles E. Schumer. “That is why when The Center for Discovery told me that over $2 million in expected relief never came from the feds, I immediately asked HHS to cut through the red tape and resolve this issue. Those with special needs cannot be forgotten as we continue to respond to this pandemic and I’ll keep fighting for the answers that the patients and employees at The Center for Discovery deserve.”
A letter from Senator Schumer to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar can be found here. Prior to this letter, in mid-May, Schumer assisted TCFD in submitting a complaint and required documentation to the HHS Office of the Secretary. Continued correspondence between The Center for Discovery and HHS did not yield any updates on progress being made to resolve the issue, prompting Schumer’s recent June 11, 2020 letter to HHS Secretary Azar. On June 12, 2020, Congressman Delgado joined in Schumer’s push asking Secretary Azar to distribute funding quickly to the Center for Discovery.
“The CARES Act was signed into law months ago and there is no excuse for delays in these necessary resources for facilities providing essential care,” said Rep. Delgado. “I support The Center for Discovery in their requests to the Administration about these delays and I will continue to call on HHS to distribute these funds as quickly as possible to ensure health facilities across NY-19 have the resources they need to provide quality care.” The full letter from Congressman Antonio Delgado to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar can be found here.
The Center provides extraordinary healthcare and education to more than 1,200 children and adults with complex conditions. Located in rural Sullivan County, New York, it has a staff of doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, adaptive recreation experts, music/art/dance therapists, special educators, farmers, orchardists, nutritionists, chefs, and other support staff. TCFD had a pandemic plan in place and supplies ordered before New York State shut down. It has since taken other extraordinary measures to ensure the health and safety of its residents, staff, and their families. This has meant providing staff with an on-campus Staff Co-Op Market and a Wash House to order groceries and other essentials and do laundry, respectively. As a result of those efforts as well as early and strict use of full personal protective equipment and the early closing of residential homes to outsiders, The Center has provided a model for the care and pandemic protection of both fragile populations and their valuable caretakers.
“At The Center for Discovery, we work every minute of every day to ensure the individuals we care for and our entire staff are safe, healthy, and happy. We look forward to continuing our work with Senator Schumer, Congressman Delgado and all of our bipartisan local, state, and national supporters through this pandemic and critical time in our nation’s history,” said Dollard, “taking care of our residents and students during these times will require true political cooperation. It is a human issue, not a political one.”
TCFD is a leading provider of healthcare and education services for more than 1,200 children and adults with complex conditions, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders, located 90 miles northwest of New York City. Named a Center of Excellence in 2016, TCFD has long been a leader in developing new models of care for individuals with complex conditions. Located on 1,500 acres of land in Sullivan County, TCFD houses school campuses, residences, medical and research facilities, organic and biodynamic farmland, and leased private businesses offering meaningful employment opportunities. Deeply focused on an individual’s personal potential and possibilities, rather than a disability, TCFD strives to create better care and unique and challenging opportunities for the most vulnerable populations.