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NMRC loses $8M in funding; programs, jobs being cut

Edith Hayles, director of the North Mississippi Regional Center, delivered some bad news to the Oxford Board of Aldermen Tuesday.

However, before explaining how recent budget cuts from the state is affecting the center that provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she offered thanks to the aldermen.

“I want to extend our gratitude for all the years of support the Oxford, Lafayette County community has provided to NMRC,” she said.

Hayles said NMRC currently serves about 2,000 people across 23 counties.

“NMRC opened with the purpose of providing long-term and short-term care across an array of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and that has not changed and that will not change,” she told the board.

However, Hayles also announced NMRC’s budget has been cut by $8 million starting July 1.

“That will definitely change some of our services and the number of individuals we serve,” she said. “And I will also say it will change the number of employees at NMRC.”

According to Hayles, the NMRC will be eliminating evaluations and therapeutic services to infants and children under 3 years old due to the budget cuts on June 30. The program is a function of the Department of Health’s early intervention program.

“This will affect about 350 children,” she said. “It will also affect the employment of three employees.”

NMRC has also stopped admitting new residential patients, Hayles said. She said many of the long-term, residential patients come from homes with aging parents who can no longer care for their adult child.

“So using that exact example, if someone comes to you, you can no longer take them in?” asked Mayor Pat Patterson.

“No, sir,” Hayles replied.

“Our state government at our finest,” Patterson said.

Hayles said if someone cannot get the support at home or if they require care 24 hours a day, many will wind up in nursing homes.

“The options are limited,” she said. “However, services at NMRC are specialized for intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Hayles said other programs could be reduced, affecting up to 20 employees and 50 clients.

Another change, Hayles said, had nothing to do with budget cuts, but rather a ruling from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2016 that said local agencies receiving Medicaid money may not monitor the services that the agencies themselves provide and are paid.

Presently, NMRC Community Support Services Department provides pre-vocational/work activity and day service-adult programs as well as supervised and supported living services.

Due to the ruling, NMRC has to discontinue those services and has changed the ownership and operation of those services to Communicare.

Alderman Janice Antonow asked if that change would keep some of NMRC’s clients from working in the city’s recycling department.

“I’m confident Communicare will allow them to continue that program,” Hayles said.