“We are on the verge of Schreiber not existing in the very near future.”
For James W. DeBord, president of Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development, COVID-19 has meant uncertainty and anxiety for both the financial survival of the center and for the patients who will have nowhere to turn if the 84-year-old outpatient center is permanently closed.
That uncertainty, of not knowing if programming can restart in two weeks or two months or later, is a sentiment being felt by many nonprofit organizations locally and throughout the state.
Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations has 1,100 member organizations and 48 of them are based in Lancaster County, according to Anne L. Gingerich, the association’s executive director.
According to Gingerich, there are approximately 50,000 501(c)(3) organizations throughout Pennsylvania, making up 16% of the workforce and employing 807,000 individuals.
Nonprofits have shared their concerns about the unfolding COVID-19 response, and the uncertainty it creates, with Gingerich. “I’ve also heard from a few members that, ‘if we knew this was a month, we could get our heads around the month. If we knew it was eight weeks, we could get our heads around eight weeks, but we don’t know,’ ” Gingerich said.
“A lot of nonprofits have had to cancel programs or events,” Gingerich said. “And some of those programs are pretty critical to their fundraising efforts.”
Every year, Schreiber holds their annual gala in the spring, which can fundraise over $150,000, according to DeBord. This year, the gala was supposed to be held March 21. It was canceled.
The annual Schreiber Egg Hunt? Canceled.
The outpatient center continued to see patients during the week of March 16 because they were considered a life-sustaining service in Gov. Tom Wolf’s order. However, by Friday March 20, 70% of the patients had canceled their appointments, and the facility finally closed its doors.
Schreiber’s model of offering services without cost, or on a sliding scale, to about 4,000 children every year was possible only because fundraising revenue offset those losses, DeBord said. The center is a nationally recognized facility that provides family-centered education and therapy programs for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities, developmental delays and acquired injuries.
But now, with no revenue coming in from Medicaid for appointments and with all spring fundraisers canceled, “The very future of the organization is truly at jeopardy here. We don’t know when we can reopen,” DeBord said.
Even with the plan of starting telehealth services for some of their patients, Schreiber has already had to lay off 30 employees.
“This will likely be the first round as we assess where we are daily,” DeBord said. “These are difficult times, and these are difficult choices; we need money coming in.”