Friday, January 7, 2011

Merrick House announces closing of Fulton Road offices – planning for transitioning services to Tremont office and other service providers

Merrick House announced today that they plan on closing their Fulton Road offices and transitioning services to other sites by April 1st, 2011.  Funding cuts over the past four years were cited as the reason for the closing of the Clark Fulton site.  Such cuts reportedly created funding gaps which had to be covered by the organization's reserve funds.  Their decision reflects concerns for ensuring programs at their main office remain solvent.

Plans are being made to transition area seniors to program service locations such at the Westside Community House, Catholic Charities – Hispanic Senior Center, and others in adjacent neighborhoods.

Merrick House – West offices are located on the 2nd floor of Lin Omni Center, 3167 Fulton Road, located in the Clark Fulton neighborhood.  Senior services being provided out of this office include; Congregate Meals, Home Delivered Meals, Transportation provided in the Tremont, Clark/Fulton, Broklyn Centre and part of the Stockyard neighborhoods, Supportive Services (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, utilities, housing, and more), Outreach, Counseling, Nursing Services, Licensed Social Worker, Bi-Lingual Staff, Health Screenings, Educational Speakers, Recreational Activities, Computer Lab, Volunteer Opportunities, and more.

Additional services include; the MomsFirst program, Adult Education/GED program, Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), and youth/after-school program.

Although our office has been working for several months to assist Merrick House in reviewing their operations and financials, their decision to close the Fulton offices was only shared with us yesterday afternoon.  Staff were notified yesterday and the seniors who receive services were told late this morning.

Merrick House has plans to transfer the MomsFirst program to their main office in Tremont - located at 1050 Starkweather Avenue. They're working to transfer the HEAP program to an agency in the Clark Fulton neighborhood.  Senior services are to be transferred to other agencies.

If the senior services are transferred out of the physical location of the Clark Fulton neighborhood, it will be difficult to have such services returned at a future date.  For this reason, I'll be meeting with Merrick House, Westside Community House and the two primary senior services funders, the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging and the Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services, to review this decision and see if anything can be done to keep services located within our neighborhoods.  In addition, I’ve requested a full review of financial information and other work that Merrick House has done in reviewing alternative options and information that led to their announcement today.

The primary goal is to secure an alternative site and service provider to continue services somewhere convenient to the seniors living in the two-mile radius covering the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Centre, Clark Fulton, Tremont and Stockyards.

Although senior services are available at these other sites, the Fulton Road offices have served as a home for area seniors for more than a decade and the camaraderie and convenience that the physical site has afforded our seniors would be a great loss.

The fact that theses other services are two to three miles outside of our neighborhoods, even with transportation provided, may prove too inconvenient or too bothersome for some seniors in our area to travel to.  It was stated this morning by several seniors upon hearing of the news that some will often walk or use an electric powered wheel chair to come to the Fulton Road site during the summer months.  For these reasons we'll need to do everything possible to either keep core services located within our area or at least some form of community activities or gathering space for our seniors.

In addition, there is a great deal of work to do in assessing social services within the ward and doing all we can to ensure service gaps are filled.  This announcement is an example of why we need to work to increase collaboration and find efficiencies in programming, so that core services such as these will not be reduced or lost to other agencies located outside of our neighborhoods.  We’ll be including other area social service agencies and faith-based organizations in discussions regarding how we may be able to retain these services.

For specific questions regarding the announcement made today, please contact Merrick House directly at 216-771-5077.

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