Changes coming for RSVP program; director departing
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
After 24 years in existence, Henry County’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) will be ending this year and transitioning to local support.
“Services will continue,” Robb Gardner, Henry County Health Center CEO, told the board of trustees on Tuesday. “And that’s what we want to really make sure the community knows.”
RSVP Director Karen Bates Chabal spoke at the HCHC board of trustees meeting on Tuesday, explaining how loss in funding over the years and changing criteria for the RSVP program led those involved to the decision to retire the program and transition the services to local support, a move that was approved by the board of trustees on Tuesday.
“It has caught up with us now, and next fiscal year the program will be underfunded,” said Chabal. “That was a concern that I had in the past few years.”
Chabal noted that local funding matches have dropped, not due to lack of support for the program, but simply a lack of local dollars to distribute.
In addition to a drop in funding, RSVP is also undergoing re-design, which has impacted the decision to transition the program.
“The new guidelines are much more complex for all of RSVPs,” said Chabal. “So we will be restructuring our work plans and service to meet their criteria.”
Another factor for the transition is that Chabal will be leaving Henry County and moving to Washington later this year.
However, while the RSVP program will no longer exist, the service will still be completed, it will just be up to the organizations to contact the volunteers themselves.
“I do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work,” said Chabal, noting that an organization will call her up in need of volunteers and she schedules the volunteers for them. “I’m the resource person.”
By transitioning from the RSVP program to local support, Chabal will be giving the names of volunteers to the organizations so they can contact the volunteers directly.
“It will literally be me handing off the names of the volunteers, and encouraging them to schedule their own volunteers that they need,” said Chabal.
There are a couple of programs that will need to find a new home, though.
“One of the key programs that we deliver is medical transportation to our senior citizens and those with disibilities, and we’ve had very productive talks so far with The Fellowship Cup. They are very interested in taking on that program,” said Chabal.
She also noted that the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) will be able to continue through Healthy Henry County Communities.
In other business, the board of trustees received a construction update from Project Manager Cragon Caboth.
The new energy center, which was issuance two of the overall project, is complete, with only the close out documents remaining, noted Caboth.
“Equipment is up and running, and the space is actually being taken over by hospital personnel right now,” said Caboth. “So they’re getting their feet wet and running all of the new equipment and learning the ins and outs. That’s going quite well.”
Issuance three, the new surgery center, is well underway and Caboth noted that work is actually ahead of schedule.
Being ahead of schedule proved beneficial when the snowstorms hit at the end of February — crews had just finished installing the new roof and enclosing the addition.
“We were able to take advantage of getting everything enclosed right when the big snowstorm hit the last week of February,” said Gardner. “We were really fortunate, and the fact that we were able to get everything closed, now everything is progressing very quickly.”
Walking through HCHC, signs of construction are evident as temporary walls have been installed, creating new hallways and maneuvering traffic around the work in progress.
“There’s so much going on — tearing down, building back up, looking forward to tearing down some things we just built,” said Ron Clouse, HCHC trustee, who had inspected the construction area earlier in the day.
“It’s amazing that we’ve got plumbers, we’ve got electricians, we’ve got guys putting up steel walls,” continued Clouse. “There’s 30 different crafts in there, and they’re all working at the same time.”
In other business, the board
- Received an update on the new hospitalist program that began on March 11.
- Reviewed HCHC’s strategic plan.
- Reviewed the organizational dashboard, listing things such as associate retention rate, as associate injury rate and participation in workshops.
- Heard management reports from Chief Nursing Officer Jodi Geerts and CFO Dave Muhs.