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Case workers worried for clients, future of Jerome Golden Center

Posted at 7:37 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 19:37:49-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A critical facility for low-income mental health patients in Palm Beach County is still in limbo.

The Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health in West Palm Beach is looking to sell after a year of financial struggles.

In an announcement made in September, the facility filed for bankruptcy protection in September, with workers being laid off and others not knowing day to day how long they'll have a job.

“We have a plan in place to stay open and still offer services during the restructure,” says Linda De Piano. “We are in the process of arranging financing to secure payroll for our staff during the bankruptcy process. However, we have put in place an admissions moratorium for our inpatient hospital for the time being, and we’re exploring the possibility of transferring some ongoing operations to other mental health providers in Palm Beach County.”

After the bankruptcy filing, the center relinquished management to another non-profit, South County Mental Health Center, which is based in Delray Beach.

But earlier this month, the center announced another big change: it withdrew the bankruptcy filing in an attempt to sell.

On Thursday, the center updated WPTV on the latest information about this transition in the following statement:

James Miller, Chairman of the Board for the Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health, announced that the nonprofit organization:

  • Is still accepting offers from prospective buyers and/or investors. Nothing has been finalized and the situation remains fluid.

  • Cannot confirm the final number of employees who have lost their jobs because many have been absorbed by the replacement service providers that haven’t shared this information with us.

  • Continues to prioritize the continuity of care for the patients we serve and helping all affected employees during this difficult transition.

The Jerome Golden Center doesn’t have any additional information to share at this time.

“Things changes by the day,” said caseworker Marcia Roberts.

She’s one of a few hundred employees wondering what's next in their future. She told WPTV in an interview on Thursday that she had no idea the facility had struggled with financial difficulty for years until the filing was made in September.

The center said in a statement last month that the financial issues are based on rising expenses and debts, declining public and private income, and changing guidelines for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, resulting in a monthly operating deficit that is no longer sustainable.

“I think everyone is grappling to make some sense of this try to straighten this out,” Roberts said. “When the dust settles, I don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

But her concern is focused on the lives of current patients at the center. They are no longer accepting new ones and the transition.

“Right now, next month, their clients are not gonna be able to pay their rent,” she said.

The West Palm Beach non-profit helps low-income or uninsured mental health patients — some with severe disabilities — with basic needs like food, housing, medical assistance, and financial help.

“These people are sick and they can't do it by themselves,” Roberts said.

Since the transition began, some people were offered to keep working through the new management, but only temporarily.

Others like caseworker Gloria Goolsby, who spent 10 years at the center, were laid off.

“I am traumatized by all of this,” she said. “They never sat down and had a meeting with us.”

She's still trying to support her clients she says were left with nothing.

“They have no idea what limbo they're in and what's gonna happen to them. They don't know. They rely on us. It breaks my heart,” she said. “To leave our clients out there is not fair. But I’m gonna make sure that they get mental health treatment from somewhere.”