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CPHC closing five offices

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Community and Primary Health Care (CPHC), which provides care to seniors across Leeds and Grenville and Lanark Counties, is closing its five satellite offices as a cost-saving measure.

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Its offices in Athens, Gananoque, Portland, Prescott and Carleton Place will be shuttered and their services will be centralized at CPHC headquarters in Brockville, the organization announced Wednesday.

But CPHC chairman Roger Haley said no staff will be laid off and the organization’s elderly clients will not see any change in services.

“The change will be seamless and will not impact services to clients and caregivers who rely on our support, but rather will provide a new structure that will lead to greater opportunities for service enhancement,” Haley said in the announcement of the closures.

The services will remain the same – the only difference is that they will be coming out of Brockville, instead of the regional offices, he said.

Although CPHC will not have a staffed office in the five communities, the agency’s programs and services will continue to be offered in shared space with other organizations in the communities, the organization added.

Some of the satellite offices were little more than storage places for supplies and maybe freezers for Meals on Wheels programs, Haley said.

Haley added the closure of the five offices was recommended by an efficiency expert hired by the regional Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to look at the CPHC’s program delivery and expenses.

The expert, who is experienced in hospital management, recommended that the CPHC could save on rent and such costs as utilities and Internet by centralizing in Brockville.

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“Basically, it’s business as usual; this is just a cost-saving measure,” Haley said.

CPHC has been struggling with a cash crunch ever since the construction of its headquarters at 2235 Parkedale Ave. about six years ago. The building cost more than projected while the fundraising fell far short of the CPHC goal, leaving it with an unexpected mortgage.

CPHC has been grappling with the debt for years but was beginning to turn the corner by 2017, according to the organization’s annual report last year.

It ended the last fiscal year with a surplus and managed to pay down its long-term capital debt by $223,000, mostly through $160,000 in fundraising.

“We can now clearly and confidently see that we will eliminate our mortgage debt over the next several years, within the funding available to us, and with aid of our ongoing fundraising programs,” then chairman Jim Bracken predicted a year ago.

Despite the optimistic tone, the local LHIN, which provides most of the funding, still had concerns, leading to the expert’s investigation.

Haley said the LHIN is now satisfied that CPHC is on the right track, and it has renewed the organization’s funding agreement through to 2022.

The LHIN supplies 55 per cent of the agency’s $4.7-million annual budget, with the rest coming from client fees, donations and the United Way.

CPHC operates with a small staff and relies mainly on the efforts of about 600 volunteers to deliver services to seniors.

Haley said the agency provides a crucial service to seniors by helping them to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. Along with Meals on Wheels, it offers in-home visits, help with home maintenance, an adult day service, transportation, foot care and a stroke strategy.

It helps about 5,400 clients a year.

The regional offices will be shut down over the next few months but all service staff will be relocated to the central location at 2235 Parkedale Ave. by the end of March.

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