Richard Chupp would attend program services near where he lives in Binghamton. Art has been his primary outlet. But then the pandemic hit.
"I'm not able to see my friends, see the people that I usually see," Chupp said, sitting alongside his sister, Linda.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ended in-person adult day programs for the 8,000 or so New Yorkers who have depended on them in the state. In-person programs have been closed for the last 11 months in New York, but providers and participants alike say that's led to setbacks.
Adult Day Health Care Council Executive Director Anne Hill said this has led to staff layoffs and worsening health effects for participants. And adult day service providers say they can provide these services in person with proper COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
"We've seen a spike in preventable hospitalizations and nursing home placement," Hill said. "People are unable to get home health care in their homes and we've seen a real decline in their health."
Chupp has lived with seizures and the health effects. But has been able to thrive with his drawings as an outlet.
"He likes cartoon characters and superheroes," his sister Linda said, holding up drawings of Donald Duck and Batman.
Linda said Richard took the drawings to a nearby nursing home to display his art.
"We've found drawing helped him to express himself and bring happiness to others," she said.
But closing the programs during the pandemic has been hard on participants. The state has encouraged these programs to go online through telehealth and video conferencing. But for Richard, it just has not been the same.
"It opens their world to a lot of different things that you don't get sitting in an apartment, in a home, in a room," Linda said.
And while Richard has been able to improve socialization with his art work, he gets something else out of it as well, he told me in an interview: "Freedom and purpose."