Non-Profit Stepping in as ECHN Eliminates Meals on Wheels Program

There are 57 homebound residents affected by the program's elimination.

A Hartford non-profit is stepping in to help after learning that Manchester-based Eastern Connecticut Health Network will be eliminating its Meals on Wheels program by March 1, impacting close to 60 homebound individuals.

“There are individuals who are part of a separate Meals on Wheels program that is east of the river that are going to need to find a new provider,” explained Community Renewal Team’s Jason Black.

Black said at this time they have taken on six of the 57 impacted residents. State Representative Michael Winkler (D-56th District), who serves Vernon, said he learned of the issue after a call from a constituent whose son relies on the service.

“I made a lot of calls and found out that ECHN was getting out of the Meals on Wheels business.”

Winkler said he was told the hospital’s decision, in part, was financial because state reimbursement rates have fallen.

“They inherited the Meals on Wheels program when they bought Rockville General Hospital. It was never part of their core mission. They run hospitals.”

ECHN would not confirm the program’s elimination over the phone, but in a statement to NBC Connecticut said: “ECHN’s main focus is delivering quality, compassionate clinical care. Like other healthcare networks nationwide, we strive to provide our patients with the highest quality care while operating as efficiently as possible. To help us achieve this goal, we have reorganized the management and staffing models in several departments. These changes are designed to make the best use of our available resources while maintaining our high standards of clinical care.”

Winkler said he is hopeful the transition will be seamless. He said Connecticut Community Care, a care management organization, is working to try to place people as quickly as possible. Black said he knows what a lifeline the service is and doesn’t want to see anyone go without it.

“There are probably 50 or so who may be looking for services. It’s not clear yet whether we are going to be able to add them to our roster. We hope that we can, if we can squeeze them in.”

For more information on the Community Renewal Team’s Meals on Wheels Program call 860-560-5848 or click here.

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