A letter from Karen Koch

​My name is Karen Koch. My husband, Tommy, has a cousin, Patrick, who is disabled. Patrick’s mom was a permanent resident of a nursing home for over five years. When Patrick’s dad (Tommy’s uncle) became ill himself, Tommy and I stepped in to help Patrick. We were already named Power of Attorney for Patrick along with his dad, Uncle Gene, so that made everything much easier going forward. 

Patrick with his Aunt Karen and Uncle Tommy

In December of 2019, I started filing the paperwork with OPWDD. I was given a choice of three care managing companies to choose from and something drew me to Southern Tier Connect. That’s when I met Ellen Pernat. Ellen helped me with all the paperwork, she understood Patrick’s needs, she taught me all the acronyms, and when finances ran out and we could no longer afford to keep Patrick in the family home, Ellen recognized the situation was dire and quickly found us the PERFECT setting for Patrick at Springbrook’s Oak and Elm Community Home. Patrick has been at Oak and Elm since August 2020 and is thriving. While he has been independent to a degree, he continues to grow toward being a part of the community and developing his social skills. He has a great apartment, independence, support when needed, and was also able to move with his two little dogs—something that we thought would never happen. 

Patrick decided he wanted to stay upstate (we live on Long Island as does much of his family) because he has lived in the country for most of his life and that is what he likes. Our family feels incredibly comfortable with Southern Tier Connect and Springbrook [caring for him] as it is evident that they always have the best interest of their residents at heart. The lines of communication have always been open, informative, and friendly. I know I called Ellen hundreds of times with hundreds of questions. She always kindly supplied me with answers and direction. The staff at Oak & Elm is also very nurturing, supportive, and they communicate with us often.

Without these people to support Patrick, as well as his family, we would be lost right now. Patrick is happy, healthy, and thriving. He finally has the services that he needs to be productive in life. I cannot even imagine where we all would be right now if it wasn’t for Ellen, Southern Tier Connect, and Springbrook. We all feel like our own family has expanded.

Advocate Now Against NYS Proposed Budget Cuts on CCOs

In early April, New York State will vote on a budget cut that would slash CCO funding by almost 40%, dismantling the service coordination system available for people like Patrick and leaving them without the support they need. Please help us persuade our legislators to vote against this drastic proposal. Use our advocacy tool to email your representatives with one click.