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Oxford, Massachusetts — Through the initial round of funding, bankHometown has approved over 400 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling more than $51 million, allowing hundreds of local businesses across central Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut to keep more than 6,000 employees on the payroll.

One such small business is bankHometown customer Matulaitis Rehabilitation and Skilled Care, a not-for-profit rehabilitation and nursing care facility located in Putnam, Conn. Administrator Lisa Ryan said that while the organization has not furloughed any of its 180 employees, it might have had to if PPP funding had not come through.

“We’re on the frontlines in healthcare, so everyone here is essential and we have to operate with all hands on deck,” she said. “For us, the PPP is allowing us to go on delivering care much longer than we could have without it.”

Ryan said that nursing homes like Matulaitis rely not only on reimbursements from Medicaid for long-term care, but on revenues from shorter term rehabilitative care for everything from cardiac events and strokes, to surgeries like knee and hip replacements. With the drop in non-COVID patients at area hospitals and elective surgeries on hold, the coronavirus has significantly affected their bottom line. “Revenues are down. We’re not seeing the level of referrals from hospitals we typically do,” she said. “So, this loan essentially keeps us in business.”

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a small business stimulus program included in the federal government’s $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The PPP provided an initial $349 billion for SBA lenders like bankHometown to fund loans to businesses on a first-come, first served basis in order to guarantee eight weeks of payroll and other costs to help businesses remain viable. Funds were exhausted in less than two weeks, but Congress recently provided for additional funding capacity of $320 billion. To qualify, businesses must have 500 or fewer employees and demonstrate that they have been negatively affected by the Coronavirus. If used for payroll and other qualifying expenses, the loans are forgivable.

According to Ryan, Matulaitis also made the decision to provide hazard pay for frontline employees, who often work several jobs but were asked to scale back to slow the spread of the disease. “We can’t have them work in a COVID-positive environment and then come here. They’ve had to make a choice and a commitment to us, so in turn we’ve made a financial commitment to them,” she said, noting that the fear of contracting the virus and passing it along to residents, who she said are like family, is always top of mind. 

Since the PPP funds payroll, Ryan noted that operational cash flow can continue covering expenses that have resulted from, or have been sharply increased by, the pandemic.

One such cost is for personal protective equipment—or PPE—like gowns, masks, and shields. Nationwide, PPE is in short supply and prices have skyrocketed. “We’ve been scrambling to obtain equipment from a number of vendors, and prices have tripled or even quadrupled. We’re grateful we can continue purchasing the equipment we need to keep everyone safe.”

Another is the cost of tablets that are used for telehealth services and to allow residents to connect virtually with family while their site remains closed to visitors. “Those are added expenses that no one could have planned or budgeted for and that had to be incurred immediately. We couldn’t wait,” Ryan said.

bankHometown’s commercial lending teams worked tirelessly to submit applications on behalf of hundreds of its small business customers like Matulaitis, knowing that for many business owners, timing was critical.

“These are trying times, and we understand the financial situation our customers are facing and the negative impact it can have on their business, the staff, and the community,” said bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton. “We’ve moved quickly to get these funds in our customers’ hands so they can meet all of their obligations. As a community bank, this is what we do and I’m proud of our ability to help local organizations like Matulaitis,” he said.

Ryan noted that her organization’s application process with bankHometown “went smoothly” once federal guidance was issued, noting that they received funding in days and were able to put it to use quickly.

But, she admits that the pandemic has had a tremendous psychological effect on their business, though they remain focused on their residents and on trying to make the best of a difficult and unprecedented situation.

“Everyone is scared,” Ryan admits. “But we’re grateful our staff remains here to help keep our residents calm and their spirits up.”

In the Photo:
bankHometown Senior Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer Shawn McNerney with Matulaitis Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Administrator Lisa Ryan.


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