ORANGE PARK – ElderSource, a Jacksonville-based agency that provides funding to the Clay Council on Aging, announced Monday it was switching providers to Jacksonville-based Aging True to contract …
ORANGE PARK – ElderSource, a Jacksonville-based agency that provides funding to the Clay Council on Aging, announced Monday it was switching providers to Jacksonville-based Aging True to contract senior services starting Jan. 1.
At previous county commission meetings, ElderSource representatives told officials they would withdraw funding from the Council if payroll could not be met. The Council has struggled financially, particularly with transportation, losing about $250,000 last year. The contracts are worth about $1,058,403 in grants a year.
Meeting on the Orange Park campus of St. Johns River State College, ElderSource CEO Linda Levin said the agency had to act in the best interests of seniors.
“We’ve had to decide, as the area agency on aging, the best interests of the seniors of Clay County that we need to terminate contracts with the Council on Aging and put in place an emergency procurement process where we have another provider delivering those services until we have a formal request for proposals,” Levin said.
Aging True will step in next year until a bid process is completed. They are currently ElderSource’s provider for senior services in Duval County.
Terri Barton, Aging True’s CEO, said the goal was for as little disruption as possible in the transition. Levin and Barton said no jobs would be lost in the shuffle.
“Everyone should continue to receive senior services as normal,” Barton said. “We’re going in with the intention of providing services, but we understand other entities may be interested in providing services as well. We’ve had a long history with the area agencies on aging.”
Bidding for a new Transportation Disadvantaged provider will be overseen by state Transportation Disadvantaged officials.
Steve Holmes, executive director of the state commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, said an emergency procurement process for bids was declared and the organization was looking to find a provider by Friday. Seniors with a disability or those who lack transportation receive rides on an appointment basis to get to their jobs and doctor visits. Holmes said the next would depend on the next provider.
“It depends (with appointments or set routes) on what’s the best way to deliver services to people in Clay County,” Holmes said. “Those will be further discussions we’ll do during this transition time in December.”
The Council on Aging will assist in the transition. Interim Executive Council Director Renee Knight will return to ElderSource when the transition is over. Council Board President John Bowles said all parties would keep the care of seniors in the county as the main goal of the transition.
“Our focus is on the senior citizens of Clay County and making sure this is a seamless transition and nobody is lost in the shuffle,” Bowles said. “Secondly, for our employees to understand there will be a transition period. Nobody is going to lose their job and there’s going to be a certain amount of newness to all of this.”
Levin said it was unfortunate the contracts had to be pulled from the Council.
“That was something we tried to avoid, that’s why we had Renee (Knight) in there,” Levin said. “My ultimate concern is the clients. It’s not an easy decision.”