Portage County's Adult Day Center is expected to close at end of year – Stevens Point Journal

STEVENS POINT − Every Friday morning, Jeanne Sroda of Stevens Point drops her 90-year-old mom, Elsie Sroda, at Portage County’s Adult Day Center. Sroda then makes her way to work with peace of mind that they are taking care of her mother.
The story is the same for Brenda Yetka of Stevens Point. She takes her 87-year-old husband, Robert Yetka, to the center three days a week and then goes to work.
“It frees my nerves for one thing,” Yetka said. “I know that he’s safe there.”
Currently, 22 individuals use the services offered by the center part time, while 10 of those use the center at least three days a week. The center, located within the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Portage County at 1519 Water St., offers activities that promote socialization, independence and enhance abilities; nutrition services; and limited personal care, such as shower services.
Last week, those who use the facility were told the closure of the center is on the horizon and Dec. 30 is the tentative last day the Adult Day Center will offer services.
“They are a godsend,” Yetka said. “I don’t know what we are going to do if it really closes.”
The shutdown comes as money for the program has dwindled during the last few years.
The program is funded by participant fees for the service. These fees are relatively low. Sroda says she pays about $12 to $15 per hour for her mother’s weekly stay. The program also receives a grant from the United Way, donations from community members and grants to help pay for particular needs in the program.
But, according to Portage County’s Aging & Disability Resource Center Director Cindy Piotrowski, the fund is near depletion. They expect the program to run out of money by Dec. 30.
“This was not an easy decision for anyone involved,” Piotrowski wrote in an email. “The Adult Day Center is intended to be a program that does not use county tax levy. Some years the program made money that went into a fund balance account, and other years it lost some money.” 
During COVID, money was lost when the program closed down for more than a year and the center kept employees employed on a part-time basis.
“Our numbers are not at the level they were pre-COVID,” Piotrowski wrote. “While they are growing, we are not at the level of sustainability that we need to reach. At the end of this year, the fund balance is projected to be depleted.”
Yetka’s husband and Sroda’s mom both suffer from dementia. They can’t be left alone, so the center’s services are the perfect solution when it comes to an affordable option that allows them to go to work or run errands.
Sroda’s mom loves her Fridays at the center. The facility consists of a large room with big windows for viewing the outside world. There are bird feeders outside the windows for bird watching. The room is always decorated for the season. Participants play games, finish puzzles, do crafts and enjoy social interaction and other activities.
“She always comes home with some little project she did,” Sroda said. 
Sroda shares the care of her mother with her sister and a paid caregiver, but the Friday visits to the Adult Day Center were not only more affordable but offered needed socialization for her mother.
“I can’t believe it,” Sroda said. “ Do you realize how much their program helps people?”
Yetka has to work to provide income for herself and her husband. She is a real estate agent and is struggling to find the time to devote to her job. She was recently looking to expand her husband’s hours at the Adult Day Center so she could extend her hours at work.
“He enjoys being there with other people with the same issues,” Yetka said of her husband. “It makes him more comfortable.
“It would be a nightmare if we had to find another program.”
Piotrowski wrote that staff at the center are hoping to help transition their families to other programs in the area, but the programs the Stevens Point Journal contacted said they are either turning people away due to staffing issues or they only assist developmentally disabled adults and not those with dementia.
“If we were fully staffed we could take five more members, but we can’t,” said Laurie Jakusz, who owns CaHoots Adult Day Service centers in Amherst, Waupaca and Clintonville. “We have been turning people away.”
She said openings are highly sought after, but staffing challenges along with state and federal requirements keep her intake numbers low.
“Aging & Disability Resource Center staff will work with the families of all of our participants to determine their needs and what other services in the community may meet those needs,” Piotrowski wrote. “For instance, we have a chore provider program where someone can be hired to provide respite. We provide home-delivered meals to seniors who need them. We also have Caregiver Support Services that include support groups and financial assistance.”
The Aging & Disability Resource Center is also looking into a potential grant in hopes the program can continue into next year.
“We need approximately $150,000 annually to run the (Adult Day Center),” Maureen Miller, assistant director of the Aging & Disability Resource Center, wrote in an email. “If we receive the funds, we plan to stay open.”
Contact USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter Jennifer Poyer at jpoyer@gannett.com.
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