RISE Life Services in Riverhead pleads for help to find way to purchase more face masks

RISE Life Services on East Main Street in Riverhead is facing a shortage of face masks used when dealing with developmentally disabled individuals living at one of its 32 group homes in Suffolk County.

The shortage is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a shortage of many items, including face masks.

The masks have been limited or nonexistent for restocking, according to RISE, which was known as Aid to the Developmentally Disabled until 2018.

“We are reaching out through all of our channels in case someone has, or knows someone who may have a supply of these masks,” said RISE executive director Charles Evdos.

“It goes without saying that these are vital to keeping safe and healthy. We have reached out to all of our resources and so far, no help has arrived. We are not asking for donations, but rather a source for purchasing.” 

Mr. Evdos said that “dribs and drabs are coming in, but I just want to be prepared. Because as this situation gets worse, masks are going to become  a critical part of our process to make sure that the coronavirus doesn’t spread.”

He asked that anyone who can help find a supplier for the masks call him at 631-727-6220, ext. 203.

RISE Life Services is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 as ADD by family members who were concerned about the physical and emotional decline of patients compelled to live in crowded institutions.

It currently has 32 group homes, and has about 300 staff that serve between 150 to 175 individuals.

That’s a lot of masks.

“We’re OK for the next couple days, but we need masks desperately to get us through the next couple of weeks,” Mr. Evdos said. “I just want to be prepared, just in case.”

RISE Life Services didn’t use masks that often prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

“There hadn’t been a need to do that, unless there was a case of someone with the flu in a house, or something minor,” he said. “But right now, when you deal with about 300 staff and 200 individuals, the problem is exacerbated.”

Another question is how often the masks need to be changed.

The staff will need to disinfect the homes at least once a day, and the masks need to be changed a minimum of once a day, according to Mr. Evdos, so they will likely need at least 500 masks per day, possibly more, depending on how the coronavirus progresses. 

Normally, the price of the masks varies based on quantity and quality, Mr. Evdos said. He estimates you can get 50 masks for about $10, and the price will go down on larger orders.

RISE Life Services has varying residential programs that vary on the severity of the disability and the need for supervision.

“We have five intensive care facilities,” Mr. Evdos said. “That’s basically individuals who are more severe and need constant care 24/7. That’s the population I’m worried about most.”

RISE serves people who have developmentally disabilities such as down syndrome, cerebral palsy and mental health issues, Mr. Evdos said.