ACR Health seeking help to survive

WWNY ACR Health seeking help to survive

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a lot of uncertainty for many organizations, including ACR Health, which is asking for your help.

ACR Health is a non-profit organization funded by the New York State Department of Health, but it hasn't received funds since January, months before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

And now, it's asking for your help.

"Through April, we're behind $1.2 million, and May is now finished and we'll be behind after we get all those vouchers into the state, $1.6 million," said Wil Murtaugh, ACR Health executive director.

So now the group is issuing a call to action - asking the community to call on local representatives to ask for the funds.

Known for events like the First Frost AIDS Walk and Run, ACR Health provides sexual health services, helps people manage HIV, and helps addicts recover from substance abuse.

"We're tasked also with ending the hepatitis C epidemic, the sexually transmitted infection epidemic, and also opioid substance abuse epidemic that everyone is familiar with," said Murtaugh.

The non-profit serves nine counties across New York state, helping over 16,000 people. But without funds, those services are gone.

"What scares me the most is really is dealing with HIV, hepatitis C, sexually transmitted disease and opioids is traumatic," said Murtaugh.

Murtaugh says 88% of ACR Health's budget comes from the New York State Department of Health.

Without payment from the state, ACR Health is at risk of losing 156 staff members, including Northern New York Regional Manager Cari Knight.

"If we don't get paid, there's no services and, you know, there could be no staff and no services. So who knows. It's really important that the state holds true to its contracts and obligations and that way we can make sure these things aren't taken from our community," said Knight.

But Murtaugh won't give up.

“We’ve been around for 37 years and we intend to go nowhere,” said Murtaugh.

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