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Community co-op care meeting in Viroqua Oct. 31
The gathering will deal with home care issues
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The impact of changes resulting from the new Affordable Care Act will present challenges to health care delivery. Many elderly people and post-surgery patients will be faced with finding alternative care to meet their needs, which will increase the demand for quality, skilled and available workers in home care.  The budgets of current resources and agencies are stretched thin and these providers are seeking ways to collaborate to share resources, be more efficient, and maintain high quality service to the populations they serve.

Since November 2012, representatives from a variety of area agencies and stakeholders have been studying the feasibility of forming a cooperative that would create jobs and centrally coordinate resources and agencies that provide in-home care to elderly and families with special needs populations in the Vernon County region.  They gathered data and information over these last ten months to identify current resources/services, gaps, and needs in home-care services.

Jim Gage, an experienced consultant, is developing a report that will assess the financial viability and sustainability of creating and operating such a cooperative. He will share the report with agencies, stakeholders and the general public at 6 p.m.  Oct. 31 in the main conference room of the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua.

Gage reviewed the information gathered by the group since last November, researched home care issues, and interviewed 25 representatives from a variety of area agencies and stakeholders.

The information gathered will be used to assess if our region could benefit from forming a cooperative to share services, retain a pool of quality home-care /personal-care workers, and provide shared training to home-care workers as a way to address re-admission to hospital issues, shortage of skilled workers and job retention in the home-care sector.

Vernon Economic Development Association and the Vernon County Unit on Aging are co-facilitating the process with assistance from the UW Center for Cooperatives, USDA Cooperative Development and the Cooperative Development Foundation.  The goal is to create jobs and to improve the quality of life for families in our region without duplicating what currently exists.

Key partners in this planning include: Bethel Home and Services, Vernon Memorial Healthcare, Vernon County Aging and Disability Resource Center, Western Technical College, Gundersen Health System, Vernon County Health Department, Center Point Counseling Services Cooperative, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, UW-Extension and private home care providers.  The feasibility work is funded by Vernon Telephone Cooperative, Wisconsin Farmers Union Foundation, Dairyland Power Cooperative and a United Way Venture grant.

For more information contact Pat Peterson, Vernon County Unit on Aging at or 637-5201 and Sue Noble, Vernon Economic Development Association at or 638-8332.