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Senior Services of Northern Kentucky to Cease Operations

Senior Services of Northern Kentucky has run out of money and will cease operations on Friday.

The non-profit organization that serves the elderly population in eight Northern Kentucky counties made the decision to close, and informed its employees on Monday morning.

The River City News reached out to executive director Jay Van Winkle and Board Chair Barbara Moran Johnson on Monday morning but was unable to reach either. 

Lisa Cooper, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, which facilitates funding for some parts of SSNK's operations, told The River City News that a meeting was held Wednesday afternoon in which the judges-executive of each affected county, as well as the mayors of Florence and Williamstown, and representatives of SSNK were in attendance.

"Our goal is to make sure that services continue for seniors," Cooper said. "We are putting stop-gap measures in place to try and make sure they do not lose their meals, can still go to senior centers, and have the ombudsman."

SSNK provides the Meals on Wheels program in Northern Kentucky, operates a food pantry in Covington, manages senior centers across the region, in addition to other services. NKADD case managers are contacting some dependent seniors now. "We don't want them to be alarmed," Cooper said. "We want them to be assured that there are people working on solutions for this."

Some of the options include bringing the SSNK ombudsman on staff at NKADD. That person represents residents at nursing homes and while Cooper was not sure whether that solution would be temporary, she expects that that service would continue without disruption.

As for the senior centers, most are operated by SSNK under a contract and Cooper said that NKADD was reaching out to see if the centers would be interested in maintaining a relationship. The managers would become NKADD contractors till January 1, a time by which Cooper hopes more permanent measures are in place.

For meals served at sites, a vendor is expected to be brought in to manage the meals. Same goes for Meals on Wheels.

Transportation services will be trickier for the NKADD, Cooper said. Though some funding for SSNK's transportation program was through NKADD, those dollars were specifically allocated for medical visits such as dialysis treatments. Alternatives are being explored.

The parking lot in Newport where many SSNK vehicles are stored feature vans that are leased by the agency and will likely be returned. The ones owned by the organization are mostly old with high mileage. The organization, Cooper said, was revealed to have little in the way of liquitable assets, as several unpaid vendors are knocking at the door.

While SSNK's financial condition has been of concern for local leaders, most were caught off guard by the abrupt plans to close. "We knew there were issues. There were discussions," Cooper said. The region will feel the impact of the agency's demise. "SSNK was a great asset. There are a lot of seniors that rely on them."

In the meantime, those services will likely be offered in piecemeal until a permanent regional solution is found.
 
SSNK's website changed Monday afternoon to reflect the planned closure. This story will be updated when more information is available.
 
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: SSNK offices in Covington (RCN)