(FOX 9) – As the rest of Minnesota begins to open up, Adult Day Services say they have been forced to live in the past.
“I am so disheartened that people with disabilities are being put on the back burner and being seen as the last,” said Colene Verdick.
Verdick’s 24-year-old daughter was enrolled full-time with Options Incorporated in Big Lake until the pandemic struck. Now his hours have been cut as the provider tries to bypass COVID-19 restrictions.
“I think it’s frustrating for me when all this time is spent figuring out how we can do the state fair and with the disabled population it’s like, ‘We will contact you when we get back to you,’” he said. said Brenda Geldert, Managing Director of Options, Inc.
The last time the state eased restrictions on adult day programs was in February. Even so, they’re still required to keep clients six feet apart, operate in cohorts of 10 or less, and try to keep them in the same direction while they work.
To accommodate as many people as possible under these guidelines, Geldert and his team reduced the hours to allow for two shifts per day. Some have been put on waiting lists or on a virtual program, with the number of people they serve in person being cut in half.
“As the state reopens completely, we are still where we are,” Geldert said.
Clients like Mark Nelson say the social aspect of the program is missing, which has been greatly reduced due to social distancing.
“I love working here because I love the people,” Nelson said. “I miss not being able to get a high five or being able to – I can’t leave my office. “
The Department of Social Services told FOX 9 that it was reviewing the governor’s latest guidelines, but had not changed anything yet.
“There haven’t been any really big outbreaks in the day services, so the science and the data isn’t really there to justify why we haven’t been allowed to move forward,” Geldert said. .