By Jessie Wagoner
McPHERSON—Businesses and non-profit agencies throughout McPherson County are struggling to find employees. Monday morning, the McPherson City Commission heard from Doug Wisby with MCDS about how their agency has been impacted by COVID-19.
“These are hard times. These are hard times for everybody; it doesn’t matter if you are for-profit or not-for-profit,” Mayor Tom Brown said. “I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I do think things will get a little bit tougher before they get better. I invited Doug to come and talk about the situation. This has been an important organization in our community for a number of years, and he is going to tell you what is happening and maybe how you can help.”
MCDS is a not-for-profit agency that has been providing services in McPherson County since 1974. MCDS assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Wisby advised that the agency has been hit hard by COVID-19 in a variety of ways. He said, last November, the agency was hit hard by COVID among staff.
“We were one of the first to be offered the vaccine,” Wisby said. “Probably three-fourths of our clients have been inoculated. We have been fortunate that a lot of the people we serve and their families have been willing to take the vaccine.”
Wisby advised that most the employees who provide direct support for clients are not willing to be vaccinated. He advised the vaccination rate for employees is most likely less than half.
“Most of the people who work direct care are typically people in their late teens and early 20s,” Wisby said. “They don’t approach their health probably as seriously as us older folks do. So, unfortunately, their rates of taking the vaccine or willingness to take the vaccine has been pretty low.”
There have been discussions that agencies who receive federal funds, Medicaid funds, would be required to mandate vaccines. Wisby said, while he appreciates the thought, he believes it will only add to staffing issues and make it even more difficult to fill positions.
“It is bad,” Wisby said. “When I say it is bad, I mean it is really bad. We have been serving people in this community since 1974. To my knowledge, we have never notified the state and county that we would no longer accept referrals. We have done that recently. We have certainly never done it since I’ve been there, and I’ve been there almost 18 years.”
MCDS has had to close programs. They are looking at consolidating services where they can find staff.
“Honestly, I don’t know where people are,” Wisby said. “We are getting no applications, and I mean across the spectrum, not just direct care. I hire people in the health field, LPNs, RNs. I hire drivers, I hire maintenance people, I hire administrative people, and I can’t hire anybody.”
Those interested in employment or who are available to assist MCDS are encouraged to contact Wisby.
In other business, the commission:
- approved wages
- received an update on road projects
- approved conditional job offers
- received a building inspection report