To our Staff, Patients, Community Members, Community Leaders, and Stakeholders:
When I first reached out to the community, I raised several concerns about our future and how we would run out of money by January 2020. At our check in last month, I discussed the myriad of meetings that had taken place, measures we had taken at Open Cities, and plans for sustainability. Those letters can be found here and here. We have made it to the end of January and fortunately, and thankfully, we are still alive and kicking. This does not, however, mean that we have the funding that will alleviate all our burdens. Our future is still in jeopardy, uncertain, and tenuous.
Since I revealed to everyone my findings and plans on how to rejuvenate our clinic, we have worked diligently to ensure sustainability of our organization so that we may continue to serve approximately 10,000 patients annually. We are vigorously attacking our expenses and improving our revenues by establishing industry best practices to address the annual $2 million budget deficit. After working with many of our staff, patients, community members, community leaders, and stakeholders, we have still not found a long-term solution. This is not to say we have had no engagement. We have plenty of support from all over our community, including our patients, a large percent of which are low income or no income. Our patients help in every way they can, and many times financial support is not something they can provide. I had a patient who made lunches for some of us instead as she could not afford to financially donate to our cause, further highlighting her support.
As we await a long-term solution, we can exercise on a short-term solution. One of many avenues we pursued was requesting an advance on our annual federal grant that usually arrives in April. I want to take a moment here to thank Congresswoman Betty McCollum, her Chief of Staff, Bill Harper, and the rest of her extraordinary staff who helped support us through this process. Their hard work and dedication is truly appreciated. I’m happy to say we have been approved an advance of approximately $638,000. I fully recognize I am repeating a practice that had been done by my predecessors, but I remind you that this time we have a plan on addressing our deficits. Prior to my leadership at Open Cities, we did not have said plan and we borrowed against our future. I fully recognize this will mean that we will not have any funding after January 2021. Exercising this option buys us time to actualize the results of the sustainability measures we have put into place while we work with local legislators, foundations, and private donors to raise enough to address our annual budget deficit.
Without a definite solution, and to extend the longevity of Open Cities, I had to exercise other cost saving methods. One of those steps was a drastic reduction in staff by 20 people that resulted in ~$1.25 million annual reduction in payroll expenses. Under this plan, we can keep both our facilities open and functional across all clinical hours and modalities. This is vitally important to our patient population as we’re a much-needed resource in Rondo, Frogtown, Payne Phalen, and North End communities.
These short-term solutions are steps toward achieving our long-term goals of improving our internal processes (billing collections, productivity/quality care, accounting practices, etc.). We are also continuing our conversations with elected officials, foundations, and private donors. To that end, we are grateful to our community partner, Golden Thyme on Selby, who will be hosting a fundraiser at their location on February 21st from 5p -7p. This event will be a community gathering and town hall where community members and stakeholders can ask questions, hear from me about our operations and finances, and raise money for the high-risk and vulnerable populations in Saint Paul. More info can be found here.
I want to thank you all for your continued interest in the success and longevity of Open Cities. I know I, alone, do not have all the answers and I welcome feedback, suggestions, and additional avenues to pursue. Together, we can get through this and achieve greatness.