A valuable program will come to an end this year for nearly 3,000 children at St. Mary’s Healthcare System, officials announced this week.
The Bayside-based facility that serves children with special needs and complex medical conditions will close its Early Intervention (EI) program May 5 due to state Department of Health cuts to reimbursement rates, St. Mary Interim President and CEO Edwin Simpser said.
More than 750 children, who currently use the program, will need to be transitioned into other agencies, he said.
“We know that these are challenging times for other EI providers, who are experiencing similar struggles,” Simpser said, “and we will continue to advocate for more appropriate reimbursement rates for vital childhood programs, including EI, that are so essential to the success and future of our children.”
The cuts have made it difficult for the program to survive, St. Mary’s administration and other nonprofits said.
“Despite the growing need for service, EI rates have not increased in 12 years, making it almost impossible for not-for-profit providers, with hospital-based providers in particular, to operate,” said Christopher Treiber, associate executive director for Children’s Services at the InterAgency Council.
Each year, the state-funded EI program at St. Mary’s serves nearly 3,000 children, who are or might be at risk for developmental delays or disabilities.
For more than 20 years, it has provided free evaluations, special education and therapeutic, support services for children under three years old.
“Our main priority at this time is to ensure a smooth transition for the children,” Simpser said.