In October 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated the coastal regions of the state of Florida affecting over 200,000 people. It is considered the third most catastrophic Atlantic hurricane to date, classifying at just shy of a Category 5. Many Florida residents, especially those that reside in Panama City and Mexico Beach, were impacted by the storm – losing power and electricity and ultimately, losing their homes and loved ones. Local businesses ceased operations due to power outages and lost access to phone and, in some cases, internet services. Moreover, their physical locations have been destroyed.
Payroll Systems client, Florida Therapy Services, was among the many businesses impacted and challenged by the aftermath of the storm. We were able to speak with HR Director, Retha Threatt, regarding how she, the employees, and the business are dealing with this crisis.
To illustrate the damage, Retha explained to us that rebuilding the impacted communities will take a very long time. She stated,“Both of our local hospitals were heavily damaged. Currently, only one is operating an Emergency Room. It’s been announced that there have been more than 800 layoffs in our community. Schools have been destroyed, and there are just over 3,000 homeless students.”
The storm has also affected Retha and her family personally,as her home underwent severe damages, and her children’s workplaces are no longer in existence. Her fellow employees are among the number of people who have also lost their homes but do not have alternative options for housing. Furthermore,one of the four Florida Therapy Services clinics was destroyed during the storm.
Florida Therapy Services (“FTS”) was founded in 1994 by Rollin and Teri Cable. At the start, FTS wanted to meet the needs of senior citizens and the disabled in assisted living facilities. After a little over 20 years in service, FTS now provides outpatient mental health services and treatment to not only adults, but to adolescents and children in Northwest Florida. They have physical clinics and collaborate with schools to serve students with mental illness on their local campuses. A few of the services FTS provides include: Psychiatric Evaluation and Medication Management, Individual and Family Therapy, Case Management, Psycho-social Rehabilitation Services,Counseling, and Adolescent Therapy.
Before the storm, the organization had plans to move into the telemedicine marketplace in order to serve clients from the comfort of their homes or remote locations via phone, tablet, or computer; this would have allowed FTS to reach beyond the borders of Florida. However, the initiative was put on hold as the company makes efforts to rebuild after the hurricane.
Payroll Systems was also curious to know what unique HR challenges FTS faced pre and post storm. Retha told us that recruiting and retaining qualified professionals to serve the organization’s clients was a challenge before the storm hit and remains even more after. Retha stated, “So many people themselves are suffering. When you have massive layoffs in a community, there is a trickle-down effect, and it is important when you are a provider of care that you have your own self-care so that you can be impactful. That is the concern that I have. Many people come to me for everything because I’m in HR,so I spend a lot of time talking to employees who are struggling with their own devastation. You can’t escape it. It’s everywhere.”
During natural crises such as this, employees still need to get paid. Retha contacted Payroll Systems in a panic-stricken state and wanted to acknowledge the service she received during this difficult time. Her requests were answered by Sheri Gouber, Payroll Systems’ Payroll and Implementations Specialist. “Sheri’s attitude towards me was, ‘I want to find a way to help you.’ And she did it with compassion. Even without knowing me, she treated me like a person and not just a client.”
Florida Therapy Services has been a client of Payroll Systems since 2016. They use our HRIS and Payroll services for close to 200 employees. Retha continued her kind words in acknowledging Payroll Systems’customer success, “I’ve had nothing but a good experience working with Payroll Systems from the very beginning, up until this devastating situation.”
If you’d like to learn more about the good work that Florida Therapy Services does or are interested in using their therapy services for someone you know, visit their website.