Community services

Long-term effects of COVID are also economic, says Sand Springs community services manager | New

With COVID-19 numbers in something of a lull, doctors are turning much of their attention to “long COVID” — the long-term effects the virus leaves some patients with.

Nathan Woodmansee, executive director of Sand Springs Community Services, feels his agency and its clientele are also dealing with a kind of long-term COVID — the long-term economic effects left in the virus’ wake.

“We are still maintaining a fund that is specifically set aside for people who may have suffered further losses as a result of having COVID over the past few months,” he said.

“The frequency of COVID-related claims has certainly gone down, but we’re seeing an increase in instability related to what COVID has done to our economy.”

Woodmansee said there’s more of a housing crisis now than before COVID, and it’s associated with increases in the costs of all kinds of goods, utilities and fuel.

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For example, a low-income senior might have Social Security as their main income. The person’s rent may increase from $650 to $850, but the income does not increase.

“It can literally turn them into homelessness,” he said. “This scenario is happening in our city.

“We are grateful to have funds to help with these purposes, but the types of funds available are different and, frankly, less than direct COVID funding sources,” he said.

“We certainly welcome financial partners who allow us to continue to do the work we do,” he said.

“In addition, we always welcome clothing donations and food donations. Although we receive them regularly, we also distribute them regularly. »

Woodmansee said a recent reconfiguration of space in the building occupied by SSCS has allowed the agency to expand its clothing room, which, in turn, will also allow the food program to expand.

He noted that Sand Springs has seen three consistent years of significant increases in requests for assistance, beginning in 2019 with the devastating flood and then the following two years of pandemic-related needs.

“What we’re seeing now is that these numbers are sort of going back to pre-flood, pre-COVID numbers,” Woodmansee said.

“But what the economy has done is that each request is very unique, requiring a bit more discernment” and original thinking from Sand Springs Community Services staff and volunteers.

“It’s a more normal level of need, but it’s complicated” by demands based on complex and multifaceted situations, he said.

Of the approximately 8,500 households in Sand Springs, SSCS still serves approximately 1,000 households in any given year.

But needs are changing. For example, Woodmansee said, applications for employment assistance account for a larger share.

Reserve personnel arrive at SSCS every weekday morning at 4:30 a.m. with a 15-passenger van to fill it with day laborers, who will travel to job sites and earn $10 or more an hour with a same-day pay, he said.

Although the “COVID lull” is a welcome respite from protocols that severely limited client contact, Woodmansee said, the agency is working hard to stay ahead of a still-fluid situation.

“We are preparing for things to be like this for a long time after the pandemic,” he said. “We are preparing for this to be potentially worse overall than the pandemic itself.”