By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON – The last remnants of St. Lawrence County’s Certified Home Health Agency will be shut down by the end of February, according County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire.
The county had hoped to eliminate the program completely last year, but was required to continue care for patients in its Long-Term Health Care Agency, until the care could be transferred to another agency.
The original plan had called for all remaining patients in the Long Term Health Care Agency to be transferred to Health Services of Northern New York, but Hilaire said HSSNY was delayed in receiving its Medicaid billing number.
“Basically they couldn’t take on the patients until they received it and we had to ensure they were cared for during that process,” she said.
Because many of the patients suffer from severe illnesses, Hilaire said the transfer time takes about a week for each patient.
“We are hoping they remaining patients will be moved over the next three weeks,” she said.
Hilaire said the Home Health Agency program was cut after the state allowed a broader range of providers to offers services. She said other providers were able to provide care at more competitive prices.
Approximately 30 positions were eliminated when the program was slashed.
Hilaire said there are currently three patients that still need to be transferred from the Long Term Health Care Agency to Health Services of Northern New York.
She said a recent budget modification was made to fund the program this year until the transfer is complete, but added that the county will likely be reimbursed for the services.
Hilaire said the county may see a savings of a much as $100,000 with elimination of the program, but said it would be impossible to give an exact figure until the end of the budget year.
“We know it’s going to be substantial, but every patient is different, so we can’t figure an exact savings,” she said.
Hilaire noting that rising costs in health services ensures that the county will see a savings in the long-term.