Fulton

Elderly care providers struggle to stay afloat

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Hit hard by pandemic, providers of care for the elderly struggle to stay afloat

PHILADELPHIA – Tanya Cook climbs into the gray van and starts her day as she always does: picking up the elderly to bring them to daycare. 

Cook, the transportation manager at New Beginnings Adult Day Care in Philadelphia, has a list that’s shorter today than she planned. Two participants canceled at the last minute, but they’ll have over 50 seniors at the center that day. 

Many adult daycare service providers in Mississippi are struggling or have closed in recent years due to low reimbursement rates from and years of legislative gridlock. The centers provide crucial services to elderly and disabled people and allow their caregivers to work and have lives outside of caretaking.

Before , New Beginnings averaged around 70 participants per day but now only sees 45 to 60 – still a marked improvement from the 30 or so they saw each day after a multi-month shutdown in 2020.

“They keep saying they’re going to wait until this is over,” Cook said. “I don’t know if this will ever be over. But some of them are slowly coming back.”

Adult daycare is a nearly invisible facet of the care system for elderly and disabled people. The centers provide transportation and meals, in addition to administering medication. Attendees participate in exercise and socialization activities. Often, they serve as participants’ only opportunity for social interaction outside of the home. 

Cook had never heard of adult daycare until she started working in one in Oct. 2017. In that time, she’s driven every route in the center’s service area. It covers eight counties total, stretching as far as Morton, more than an hour’s drive away. 

Cook remembers getting calls from participants one month into the COVID-19 shutdown where they asked: ‘Are you going to come get us?’

 “They’re stuck at home all day, so this is their way out of the house,” Cook said. 

That was the case for Jean Anderson, an 85-year-old Philadelphia native who has been coming to New Beginnings for over four years. After her husband passed away, her case worker asked if she’d like to start attending an adult daycare, and she agreed to try it out. 

“I was getting lonely at the house by myself,” Anderson said. “This keeps you from sitting there and doing nothing all day.” 

There were at least 126 adult daycare service providers across Mississippi pre-pandemic, but around 30% of them have closed permanently over the last few years, according to Benton Thompson, president of the Mississippi Association of Adult Day Services.

 “Their volume dropped due to COVID, and they couldn’t continue operations with the same overhead costs and limited revenue,” Thompson said. 

The bulk of those overhead costs come from staffing, which includes a family nurse practitioner and social worker, along with seven other required positions. Under quality assurance standards set by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, each facility must maintain a minimum staff-to-participant ratio of one to six, or one to four in a facility that serves a high percentage of people who are severely impaired. 

The vast majority of those who use adult daycare services are enrolled in Medicaid’s Elderly & Disabled Waiver program. The waiver provides home and community-based services for Mississippians who would require nursing home level care if not for the alternative forms of care the waiver provides, like adult day care. At New Beginnings, 98% of its clients are on the waiver. As of June 2022, there were 17,022 waiver recipients across the state, according to the Mississippi Division of Medicaid.

The problem with this system, workers and advocates say, is that reimbursement rates have stagnated while costs have continued to rise, meaning only those who bring in a high number of participants can break even.

Currently, adult daycares receive a maximum reimbursement of $60 per person each day from Medicaid. They can only bill for up to four hours of care, though they’re required to be open for eight.

“We’re at the mercy of (Medicaid) case workers,” said Michelle McCool, administrator at New Beginnings. “It’s all based on numbers, and if they don’t refer clients to us, or if there’s a backlog of people waiting to get into the waiver program, we can’t survive.”

Some legislators have attempted to increase the reimbursement rate for adult daycare services every year since 2015. Each time, it has either died in committee or passed in both chambers, with each side unable to agree on a final version. 

If passed, the bills would have more than doubled the level of reimbursement that adult daycares like New Beginnings currently receive. Their per-person reimbursement would increase to $125 and the centers could also be reimbursed for transportation costs separately. Thompson believes the lack of awareness about adult day services is what has caused this repeated failure to act from lawmakers.

“I think it’s due to a lack of knowledge,” Thompson said. “I think most of them sitting up there in Jackson on these bills have never been to an adult day service and don’t understand the benefits.”

Thompson believes that expanded utilization of adult daycares would save the government money in the long run by preventing costly hospital stays and delaying costlier institutionalized care in a nursing home setting. He also pointed to the benefits for the primary caregivers of participants who have them, which sometimes provide the only way for them to run errands, work or just simply have a break.

“If you don’t give that caregiver a break, then they’re going to become a participant (person who needs adult daycare),” Thompson said. 

On Friday, Jeanette Carter is one of the few participants at New Beginnings dressed up for that day’s theme: Remembering 9/11. The 68-year-old is wearing a red, starry tank top and American baseball cap. She walks around the room, talking to her friends and looking for places to help out before the scavenger hunt.

Carter has been coming to New Beginnings nearly five days a week for over a year and a half. The only days she’s missed were due to catching COVID-19 in Oct. of last year. 

“If this place was open seven days a week, believe me, Jeanette would be here,” Carter said.

She only started coming to New Beginnings after the previous center she went to closed during the pandemic. In that brief period, she was scared of being stuck at home. 

“I get out of hand at times,” Carter said. “I can’t be nobody else but me and they understand me. I don’t know what I’d do without this place.”

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Brandon Presley boasts list of noteworthy campaign donors

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Brandon Presley, a potential candidate for governor, boasts list of noteworthy campaign donors

Brandon Presley of Nettleton will host a political fundraiser on Thursday featuring a diverse and noteworthy group of donors — especially noteworthy for a campaign for the down-ticket office of Northern District Public Service commissioner.

The fundraiser, which will be held in Tupelo at the birthplace and of Brandon Presley’s famous cousin Elvis, will net at least $209,000, based on the level of commitment of donors listed on an invitation card.

Whether the 94 people named on the fundraiser invitation are donating to Presley’s 2023 reelection campaign to the three-member Public Service Commission or to another post is not clear.

Presley has long been rumored as a possible Democratic candidate for governor — presumably against Republican incumbent Tate Reeves in 2023.

But Presley still is publicly non-committal.

“I am concentrating on trying to get internet to every household in the state, trying to keep utility rates affordable during this time of high inflation,” Presley told Mississippi Today. “I am trying to work on things that make a difference for average Mississippians.”

He also has been active in trying to ensure all Mississippians have access to safe water.

If Presley does opt to run for governor, presumably against Reeves, the Democrat will need multiple fundraising efforts like what will be held at the Elvis birthplace and museum on Thursday.

PODCAST: Will 2023 governor’s race be ‘all shook up’ by Brandon Presley?

In each of his five statewide campaigns, Reeves has had overwhelming fundraising advantages over his opponents. In his 2019 campaign for governor, Reeves outspent his Democratic opponent, former Jim Hood, $15.6 million to $5.2 million.

But interestingly, a handful of members of Reeves’ 2019 Finance Committee are listed as donors for Presley’s Thursday fund-raiser in Tupelo. They include Amory businessman Barry Wax, Johnny Crane of and Colin Maloney of Tupelo.

Wax, a longtime Republican donor, is listed as donating at least $10,000 for the Tupelo fundraiser and donated $25,000 to Presley during calendar year 2021.

Based on the January campaign finance filings with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, Reeves had $4.8 million in cash on hand to $520,000 for Presley. At the same time period before the 2019 gubernatorial election, Hood had $656,393 cash on hand while Reeves, then lieutenant governor, had $5.4 million.

But among the standouts of Presley’s fundraising to date is the number of Republicans who have written him checks.

Of the campaign donors, “We are fortunate to include a large group of Republicans and we always appreciate the support of all the solid Democrats and the independents,” Presley said. “I have always tried to be the type of elected official who reaches across the aisle to try to find solutions … I have tried not to get caught up in the echo chamber.”

Presley added, the donors “are people I know.”

The next filing of campaign finance reports is not scheduled until January 2023. But in 2023, an election year, there will be many more required filing of campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State’s office.

READ MORE: Can Brandon Presley be the statewide winner Democrats can’t seem to find?

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Make Fulton Your Next Mississippi Staycation

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by Rebecca Turner, Our Mississippi Home

The City of , established in 1837, is named for Robert Fulton, the inventor. Located in the northeastern part of Mississippi, Fulton is smack-dab between Birmingham and Memphis on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Fulton boasts a modest population of nearly 4,000 but entertains bypassers and visitors stopping to take advantage of the waterway sports such as boating, skiing,…

This article first appeared on Our Mississippi Home.

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Podcast: A sports smorgasbord – Mississippi Today

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Podcast: A sports smorgasbord

So much going on in the sports world, including on the golf course, where Chad Ramey of became the first native born Mississippian to win on the PGA Tour in 52 years. This week, we’ve got both the men’s and women’s Final Fours and so much high level college baseball. The Cleveland boys talk about it all in this episode.

Stream all episodes here.


This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Fulton’s Chad Ramey ends a long Mississippi drought on PGA Tour

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Fulton’s Chad Ramey ends a long Mississippi drought on PGA Tour

The call came Sunday afternoon shortly after that Mississippian Chad Ramey, the former Mississippi State golfer from , had won the PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic.

The caller had a question: “When was the last time before today that a native Mississippian won an official PGA Tour event? You’re supposed to know those kinds of things.”

The most obvious answer would be Jim Gallagher Jr. of Greenwood, whose nine professional victories include five on the PGA Tour, including The Tour Championship in 1993.

Rick Cleveland

One problem there: Gallagher was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Indiana and played his college golf at Tennessee. He once won the old Magnolia Classic in Hattiesburg, but he is not a native Mississippian. To which Gallagher, now a Golf Channel commentator, no doubt would tell you: “I’m better than that. I live here by choice.”

So, if not Gallagher, then whom?

My next guess would have been Glen Day, who grew up in , and won the 1999 MCI Classic at Hilton Head, defeating Golf Hall of Famer Payne Stewart and Jeff Sluman in a sudden playoff with a birdie on the first extra hole.

That happened 23 years ago last month, which would constitute a long PGA Tour victory drought for Mississippians, except for the fact that it turns out Day was born in Mobile, not Poplarville. He is not, technically, a native Mississippian.

Oh boy, I thought, this is going back a long, long ways. The last Mississippian to win on the Tour had to be either Pete Brown or Johnny Pott. Drivers were still wooden and golf balls were wound, not solid, when Pott and Brown won on the Tour.

Pott, one of golf’s great gentlemen, now 86 and living in California, won five times on Tour, the last time in the 1968 Bing Crosby National Pro Am, beating the great Billy Casper and Bruce Devlin in a playoff. Pott grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and played collegiately at LSU. And this is something I did not know until I looked it up: Pott was born in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Pete Brown

So that leaves Pete Brown, the first African American to win a PGA Tour event. Brown, who died in 2015 at the age of 80, won two PGA events, the last being the Andy Williams San Diego Open in 1970. On Feb. 1, 1970, Brown, born in Port Gibson and raised in Jackson, shot a final round 65 and then defeated Englishman Tony Jacklin in a playoff and win the $30,000 first prize. Yes, over the last 52 years, PGA purses have soared.

Brown remains one of the greatest Mississippi sports stories of all time. The son of sharecroppers, he learned the game caddying at a golf course he was not allowed to play. What’s more, he learned with a left-handed 3-wood and a right-handed 5-iron, both of which he retrieved from a lake. He did not own his first set of clubs until he was 20, by which time he had also overcome polio.

So, if my math is correct, when Chad Ramey clinched victory Sunday it had been 52 years, one month and 27 days since a native Mississippian won on tour.

Now, that’s a drought.

Here’s the good news: It won’t be nearly that long until it happens again.

Hattiesburg’s Davis Riley finished second at the Valspar Championship the previous week. He’s going to win on the PGA Tour. He’s too good not to.

Ramey, who was a picture of consistency the last two years on the Korn Ferry Tour, has the game to win multiple times. Hayden Buckley of Belden finished 13th in the same tournament Ramey won Sunday. Buckley — OK, so he was born in Chattanooga — has the game to win on Tour, as well. Ramey, Riley and Buckley give Mississippi three of the top 80 money winners on tour currently.

Recently, Jackson’s Wilson Furr qualified for full privileges on the Canadian PGA Tour, known as the MacKenzie Tour. Former NCAA champ Braden Thornberry still plays the Korn Ferry Tour. All these young guys, in their 20s, have enormous potential. And there’s an impressive crop of college and junior golfers behind them. Put it this way: It will not be 2074 before a Mississippian wins on the PGA Tour again.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Mississippi Stories: Karen Matthews

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Mississippi Stories: Karen Matthews

Mississippi Stories: Karen Matthews

In this episode of Mississippi Stories, Mississippi Today Editor-At-Large Marshall Ramsey sits down with Karen Matthews, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Delta Health Alliance. Matthews talks about growing up in , Mississippi, studying engineering and accounting and how she made the pivot to healthcare.

She also shares some of the success stories of the Delta Health Alliance from the past 20 years and some of its (and the state’s) biggest challenges. Created by the late Senator Thad Cochran, DHA funds and operates 40 different healthcare initiatives in 38 Mississippi counties. Health truly does equal wealth.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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