(Photo by Richard Koilor)
The latest SEPTA strike is upon us, and anyone who uses public transportation (or even bikes or drives) is feeling it.
The impact stretches further than backed up lines for the Regional Rail and standstill traffic.
While nearly 5,000 SEPTA workers strike over pensions, people in recovery are having difficulty getting their treatment. Caregivers for the elderly can’t get to their patients. Food pantry deliveries are getting backed up.
The strike is a nightmare for everyone, but it’s becoming a hellscape for people in need.
In a city with 25% of the pop living near the federal poverty line, how many people are one absentee away from losing their job #septastrike
— Mustafa Rashed (@mustafarashed) November 1, 2016
The strike is “definitely affecting” people in recovery, said Wedge Recovery Centers ED Christopher Sweeney.
“Temporarily, we are able to send van transportation to locations where there are at least four people in need,” he said. “We are not able to sustain this into the foreseeable future.”
Access to medical care in general is becoming a serious problem. A major problem for older adults receiving long-term care services, primarily home care, is that the staff providing care mainly use public transporation, said Diane Menio, executive director at Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly (CARIE).
"We are not able to sustain this into the foreseeable future."
“I have no doubt that there are visits that are being cancelled as a result, as well as staff arriving late,” she said. That creates a snowball effect. “Many home care staff care for several individuals in a day. Some agencies may have come up with plans to help staff get around, but I’m sure they don’t all have the capacity to manage this situation.”
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Karen Kulp, CEO of Home Care Associates, said the home healthcare service for seniors has had to rent two vans to pick up caregivers. Most of the people the agency works with are dependent on SEPTA.
“It’s really expensive to do,” Kulp said. “We’ll have to do it for the duration of the strike.”
However, Menio said, SEPTA’s Customized Community Transportation (CCT) is still running, so elderly citizens who use that system should still be able to get to senior centers and doctor’s appointments — as long as they don’t get stuck in traffic.
Traffic is also affecting deliveries to food pantries like Feast of Justice, which has “definitely seen an impact,” according to Philabundance Executive Director Glenn Bergman. Most Philabundance agencies such as Feast of Justice, though, make their deliveries later in the week — which means that fresh food access for many hungry families could be impacted if the strike continues into the week.
Food Connect founder Megha Kulshreshtha told us that she expects food delivery to service providers will be delayed after lunch and in the evening, when traffic is likely to be heaviest.
“Donors receive ETA notifications for the deliveries so we will have to be flexible if there are major delays,” she said. “Nonetheless, we still expect to be getting all of our deliveries to the shelters today.”
CB Community School had an 86 percent absentee rate on Tuesday and a 93 percent absentee rate today.
The strike is having a severe impact on schools as well. CB Community School CEO Roberta Trombetta said the school, which serves older youth in foster care, had an 86 percent absentee rate on Tuesday and a 93 percent absentee rate today.
“This is just so sad given that in the month of September we had an 86 percent attendance rate with only 14 percent absenteeism,” Trombetta wrote in an email.
And Jordan Mickman, managing attorney at medical-legal provider HELP (Health, Education and Legal assistance Project), said one of his clients could not get to the courthouse yesterday to get a Protection From Abuse order.
Additionally, Mickman said nurses with the organizations have reported at least two instances of women who could not get to their high-risk pregnancy appointments due to a lack of transportation.
We’ll continue to check in with service providers as the strike progresses.-30-
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