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Easter Seals closing Franklin Co. offices

February 06, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Easter Seals will be closing its offices in Franklin County, Pa., leaving patients in search of new places to obtain hearing aids, physical therapy, speech services and occupational therapy.

Easter Seals announced in a news release Wednesday it intends to close its locations in Waynesboro and Chambersburg, Pa. Those closures are expected to occur before April 30.

Last year, the Waynesboro office at 626 N. Grant St. served 438 patients and the Chambersburg office at 55 Hamilton Road served 544 patients, according to Lynne Wenrick, manager of rehabilitation services for the two offices.

Eleven employees, many of them therapists, will be out of work in Franklin County, she said.

“We’ve spent the past week and a half notifying our patients. ... Our main concern is our patients and trying to help them transition to other providers,” Wenrick said.

Those patients are receiving lists of providers elsewhere, but many are encountering waiting lists for those other providers, Wenrick said. Many also will need to drive to central Pennsylvania because their insurance plans do not cover providers in Maryland, she said.

“The consolidation is part of a restructuring plan to enable the organization to continue to provide programs and services for individuals with disabilities in a cost-effective and efficient manner,” an Easter Seals news release stated.

While it is closing the Franklin County offices, Easter Seals also will be consolidating services in the Altoona and State College areas of Pennsylvania, the news release stated.

The cost of providing services has been going up, Wenrick said.

The news release stated reimbursement rates for medical rehabilitation programs such as speech, occupational and physical therapies do not cover the costs to provide them. It stated the organization has operated with significant cash deficits for several years.

Wenrick said she anticipated changes in Franklin County, but was surprised to learn of closures.

In Chambersburg, the most popular services are audiology for children needing ear tubes before and after operations, Wenrick said.

“We provided hearing aids and services for that, also,” she said.

The most utilized services in Waynesboro are for older patients needing physical therapy, Wenrick said. That office also does a significant amount of occupational therapy and speech services for children, like those with autism disorders, she said.

Easter Seals has been providing medical rehabilitation programs in Franklin and neighboring Adams counties for more than 75 years, the news release stated.

Easter Seals will continue to offer day camps and residential camps for children and adults with special needs as well as programs for military families, the news release stated.

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