Catalyst Life Services has been serving Richland County for over 65 years, constantly evolving to meet the needs of this community. Our mission is that we are an agent of change, guiding the people we serve to lead more fulfilling lives. As a community behavioral health organization and leaders on the frontlines of mental health and substance use disorder treatment, we play a critical role in this community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have already seen an increase in overdoses, suicides and domestic violence as a result of this crisis. During this time of social distancing, access to public spaces for needed resources like wifi is no longer an option. Gathering spaces for support, such as our Oasis Peer Center, have temporarily closed due to the guidelines set by the state. Many of our clients are under-housed and live in crowded spaces magnifying the stressors they are already experiencing. While we all feel the stress and burden of less activity, this is intensified for the individuals we serve who may already exhibit symptoms of anxiety, depression, paranoia and substance use disorders. Telehealth services are essential for our organization to help the thousands of residents we serve in this community stay connected to the tools needed for them to cope with the uncertainty and apprehension of a global crisis.
We serve marginalized populations and treat individuals who already have limited access to needed resources. We need the resources to reach out to people we know are not going to be connected. Social distancing is our strongest weapon in slowing the spread of COVID-19 but we have to purchase tools to help us ensure our clients are not socially isolated. We are having to incur extra-ordinary expenses in order to maintain revenue. While loss of revenue is a very real possibility, we are also incurring significant costs in order to adapt our service delivery. We are unable to operate “business as usual” and have had to switch into telehealth almost overnight.
Catalyst Life Services employs over 350 staff in our facilities, and serves over 8,500 individuals annually, so our purchases to adapt to this new environment are significant. Some items already purchased (or needed to purchase) to continue to provide services under the new circumstances to protect our staff and clients include PPE, additional cleaning / sterilization supplies, caution chains and cones to comply with social distancing, and thermometers for temperature checks. In order to offer our services remotely, we also need video conferencing subscriptions, chrome books and tech equipment, increasing data, bandwidth and server maintenance and hosting services, as well as phones, minutes and internet services for our clients to stay connected.
At the same time, we face a potential loss of revenue due to the fact that as a community behavioral health agency, many of those we serve are transient and used to coming on site for services. Many do not have stable housing, phone service, social supports, or other resources to maintain mental health and sobriety. With a “stay at home” order, it is much more difficult for staff to make connections with those we serve if they do not have a phone to use or cannot go to the normal public places (such as the library) to utilize the public WiFi to make phone calls and use the internet. In addition, some of those we serve are unlikely to continue therapy and treatment due to having children to care for, lack of resources, and potentially a lack of insurance if they were laid off. All of these factors become a challenge when trying to meet our mission as an agency. Because we operate as fee for service, this could also adversely impact our operational budget in addition to the expenses we are incurring to adapt to this pandemic.
Your support will help us to once again, adapt to the climate of local needs during these unprecedented times. A “Catalyst” is defined as a person or event that quickly brings about change or action and Catalyst Life Services is a “Catalyst” by continually evolving to meet the needs of the community. Will you make the decision to BE A CATALYST for YOUR community by donating today?