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St. Anne’s Senior Center to Cut Staff and Hours

  A senior center that has served the Olde Richmond and surrounding communities since the late 1970s will be laying off four employees and reducing both its hours of operation and its social worker from 40 to 20.

  Karen Rouse, center manager of St. Anne’s Senior Citizen Center at 2607 E. Cumberland St., said she expected the budget cuts. They begin July 1, the start of the new fiscal year for Catholic Health Care Services, which operates St. Anne’s and three other senior citizen centers citywide.

  “I’ve been working in the aging field for a long time,” Rouse said. “You realize there are problems, but I didn’t expect the severity of it.”

  Officials from Catholic Health Care Services (CHCS) told Spirit News the cuts were because of rising operating costs. St. Anne’s and Star Harbor Senior Citizen Center in southwest Philadelphia were chosen because they see less senior citizens on a daily basis.

  Karen Becker, director of in home support and special projects, said CHCS has been projecting these cuts since the start of the fiscal year last year.

  “This fiscal year, we subsidized the four senior centers through Catholic Health Care Services $1.2 million,” Becker said. “In the course of the three years prior to this past fiscal year, we did subsidize those centers about $3 million… so the [Board of Directors of CHCS] came to us and said this isn’t something we can sustain for the long haul.”

  The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging gives about $400,000-$500,000 annually to CHCS to help operate the centers, Becker added.

  John Wagner, deputy secretary and CEO for Catholic Health Care Services, said allocating resources and funds year-to-year can be difficult.

  “For us and our organization, we have limited treasure,” he said. “You only have so many charitable dollars. Who do you take care of, and at what level? So we take that into consideration every year.”

  Becker said St. Anne’s will serve as a “satellite” senior citizen center and be open from 9 AM – 1 PM, versus the current hours of 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM. It still will offer a noontime meal, transportation through SEPTA’s CCT Connect, social services and a place for seniors to socialize and participate in recreational activity, she added.

  “It was important for us in facing fiscal challenge we have that our first priority was to keep four centers operating in all four neighborhoods,” she said.

  Karen Rouse said a community meeting will be held next month to plan for how St. Anne’s will operate its programs and work with community partners.

  One of those partners is Greensgrow, the urban farm right next door. Ryan Kuck, executive director, said he’s seen the first-hand impact of St. Anne’s impact on seniors and that the relationship between the two organizations has been strong.

  “Their parking lot has been invaluable for us,” Kuck said with a laugh. “The partnership has definitely been valuable over the years.”

  Wagner said St. Anne’s cuts are a microcosm of a growing senior citizen population and deciding how to allocate limited resources to ensure they get the proper amount of care.

  “You don’t have to go one night without watching the news and know that our government is trying to figure out how they’re going to pay for systems that affect the elderly,” he said. “It’s the topic of discussion.”

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