The finance committee of Lafayette County upheld a motion from a previous meeting that decreased the amount of levy funding allocated to the Lafayette County Health Department by $200,000 during a meeting Tuesday morning, Oct. 14.
That $200,000 amount was around the original levy-funding request for the home care department of the health department. Although technically the committee is not dictating that the home care department be shut down, they are eliminating all county funding for the program.
The motion was upheld after a presentation from Sue Matye, director of the health department, and Rebecca Steffes, assistant director and home care coordinator, detailing how they believed they could improve on revenue and reduce costs, after meeting with the home care department of Grant County, which does not make a levy funding request from the county.
Steffes outlined room for improvement at Lafayette County’s home care in regards to improving the potential in revenue from therapy visits, realizing the cost effectiveness and savings of the department’s recently acquired electronic medical records system and strengthening the coding knowledge and skills among staff.
Steffes and Matye also came back with an even smaller levy funding request for home care of $82,759, as opposed to their original request of $194,116, which they had already cut down by $10,000 at a previous meeting. Matye proposed that all of the health department’s staff currently working 40 hours would cut back to 36 hours per week, in order to save money in wages. But that didn’t sway the committee members.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Matye of the actions taken by the finance committee.
In addition to hearing from Lafayette County Health Department and home care representatives, the committee invited representatives from Upland Hills and Monroe Clinic to the meeting to get their opinions on what they could do if the home care program in Lafayette County was shut down.
Both organizations outlined that they are looking at the same things that Steffes had brought up in regards to efficiency and cost saving. Both Upland Hills and Monroe Clinic also noted that they do not provide personal care, which Lafayette County does, and that both of their programs are at least partially subsidized by their area hospitals.
Representatives from Monroe Clinic stated that they currently do come into certain areas of Lafayette County, but only into the Blanchardville, Gratiot and surrounding area at the edge of the county where there is not a duplicate of service available.
“We’re not going to duplicate services and at this time we see no need to expand,” said the Monroe Clinic representative.
When asked by committee members if Monroe Clinic’s service would expand if Lafayette County’s home care shut down, it was stated that they could give no answer to that, but would have to take it under advisement and consider all the aspects related to that.
“We can’t just say that we’re going to open our doors completely up right now,” said the representative.
“It was interesting to hear what the other agencies had to say,” said Steffes after the meeting. “I don’t think they’re prepared to come in and just take up our case load at this time and it’s not their objective.”
Matye noted that the other two agencies did a nice job of explaining where the revenue opportunities are for home care programs as well.
Before the former motion was upheld by the committee there was a separate motion proposed by committee member Gerald Heimann to keep the $200,000 allocated to the health department if the home care budget could stick to their proposed budget of $82,759 as well as eliminate one full time position.
The motion was seconded by committee chairman Wayne Wilson, but failed in a roll call vote of 1-4. Only Heimann voted to keep the $200,000 in the budget for the department. Wilson, Bill Moody, Ted Wiegel and David Hammer voted against it, thereby upholding the original motion to decrease the funding.
There were around 15 members of the public in attendance at the meeting, although there was not a time allocated for public comment on the finance committee’s agenda.
Due to an error in communication regarding the time and date change of this particular committee meeting, two members of the committee did not arrive until well after the start of the meeting and towards the end of the presentation by Steffes and Matye.
As far as what happens next with the health department and home care, Matye explained that they will have to go back to the board of health to see what can be done with $200,000 less in levy money.