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Care regardless of ability to pay

Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. provides quality care in its four eldercare residences regardless of a resident’s ability to pay.
In 2015, 77 percent of the residents received Medicaid.
“Our mission is to provide residents with a safe, caring and homelike environment where they can enjoy a pleasant living experience rooted in Christian dignity,” said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities. “For private pay residents, if they convert to Medicaid, they can stay with us and in their same room.  This isn’t the case every facility. Some facilities require residents to move once they have moved from private pay to Medicaid.”
Michaud Memorial Manor in Derby Line has 33 beds; Loretto Home and St. Joseph Kervick Residence in Rutland have a total of 107 beds including Loretto Home’s special care unit for residents assessed with higher physical and/or cognitive limitations. St. Joseph’s Residential Care Home in Burlington has 41 beds.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington provides rent-free use the four residential care homes totaling $1.35 million annually because “our social mission is to care for the sick, the poor, the elderly regardless of their ability to pay,” pointed out Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne. “As Catholics, we are all called to put our faith into action and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.”
According to Jeanne Schmelzenbach, administrator of Loretto Home and St. Joseph Kervick Residence, 83 percent of the residents cannot afford the private pay rate and are subsidized by Catholic Charities. “This number has been increasing steadily over the past several years.” It was about 75 percent in 2014.
“We pride ourselves on providing exceptional resident care to all residents regardless of their ability to pay,” said Mary Belanger, administrator of St. Joseph’s Residential Care Home. “All our residents are provided the care and services that they need to thrive.”
The homes’ commitment to the dignity of all people comes from the Gospel, Catholic Charities and founders of the homes.
“Our commitment comes from the belief that we as a Catholic institution, give back to the residents in need with an open heart,” Belanger added.
“Our goal is to provide a homelike environment where everyone can enjoy a pleasant living experience and receive the assistance they need,” Schmelzenbach said.
The residential care homes provide personal care, general supervision, medication management and nursing overview to persons unable to live wholly independently but are not in need of the level of care provided in nursing homes.
According to Anne Steinberg, administrator of Michaud Memorial Manor, because of Vermont Catholic Charities dedication to serving those in need, the home is fortunate to be able to care for an unusually high number of Medicaid recipients – about 70 percent at Michaud. “The rate of reimbursement that Medicaid provides is relatively low, making it pretty cost prohibitive for most homes to accept a large percentage of Medicaid residents,” she said. “I feel very blessed to work for an organization that recognizes the importance of opening our doors to all those in need, regardless of payer source.”
“The Medicaid reimbursement helps us care for residents with higher care needs without needing to transfer them to a nursing home,” Belanger said, adding that the reimbursement helps but it is not enough to care for all the people in need in the community.
The Catholic Charities-run homes are fully licensed by the Vermont Division of Licensing and Protection as Level III Residential Care Homes. 
Medicaid provides about one third of the actual cost of caring for a resident.
“Catholic Charities and fiscal management of the homes enable us to support this underserved segment of our population,” Schmelzenbach said.

2016 Advent Appeal underway

The 22nd Advent Appeal is taking place throughout the Diocese of Burlington to raise funds to help individuals and families with basic needs such as food, utilities fuel and back rent/security deposits throughout the year.
For Christmas, funds will be used to help families with fuel assistance, unexpected expenses, food cards and gift cards to help provide children with Christmas gifts.
“This is the only appeal Vermont Catholic Charities conducts, and it supports individuals and families during the Christmas season and year around. The ‘Season of Giving’ has no bounds for people in need,” said Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
Last year a change was made to the appeal so that it would focus not only on helping people during the Christmas season but also provide additional funds for Vermont Catholic Charities’ year-round Emergency Aid Program. Throughout the year, Vermont Catholic Charities provides aid to hundreds of individuals and families who need immediate, short-term financial support.
“At Catholic Charities, we see the face of Christ in each and every person we encounter through the services we provide.  We couldn’t do this without the support of donors,” Pinard said, adding thanks to all those donors who have given in the past and those who will give this year. “Please know that although you don’t get see the relieved faces of clients helped, the individuals and families are grateful for your compassion.”
Last year the Advent Appeal raised $85,252, and it is hoped that the collection will exceed that this year.
During the Christmas season, support was given to 473 individuals/families and 445 children. This included supporting 56 requests from parishes.
In 2015, the Vermont Catholic Charities’ Emergency Aid program served more than 938 individuals and 591 children throughout the state.
“Electricity and food are such everyday needs, and when you don’t’ have them, your world feels upside down,” an emergency aid recipient said. “Thank you for helping my world stay upright.”
The geographic reach of the Emergency Aid Program includes households in all 14 Vermont counties encompassing 82 cities/towns. The top three emergency aid categories for clients were back rent/security deposits, electricity and fuel/heat.
“The population benefitting from emergency aid included the unemployed, the underemployed, those who have faced unexpected crises in their lives and those needing emotional support,” Pinard said.
“I am a single parent on disability with my four children living with me,” one Advent Appeal recipient said. “It has been a little bit of a struggle this year. I’m so appreciative with what you are doing to help me.”
“Pope Francis has invited us to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy through service and acts of charity to those in need,” Pinard said. “Supporting the Advent Appeal is one way for people to show that they are a visible sign of God’s love and mercy to Vermonters in need. They are continuing to answer the call to serve others. This financial assistance supports Corporal Works of Mercy – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless.”
The deadline for contributing to this year’s Annual Appeal is Dec. 31, but any donations received after that date are greatly appreciated as the emergency aid program provides year-round support.
To donate, send a check to Vermont Catholic Charities, Advent Appeal, 55 Joy Drive, South Burlington, VT  05401 or give online at vermontcatholic.org/adventappeal.
  • Published in Diocesan
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