August 18, 2011

Funding Cuts Have Health Department leaning Even More on Home Health Agency

The Scotland County Health Department/ Home Health Agency have been providing services to the residents of the county for more than 32 years.

Scotland County Health Department receives the biggest part of its revenue, 38% from Medicare home health services. With looming changes in the healthcare field, Administrator Margaret Curry indicates those serves likely will be leaned on even further to support the department.

The department receives just 3% of funding through the form of private insurance and Medicaid.

Private and public grants procured by the department's staff, along with other miscellaneous income including donations and memorials represents 11% of the departments annual revenue.

The remainder of the funding for the health department is generated from contracts through the state for specific services. The list of duties includes environmental services, such as health inspections for restaurants, day care providers, hotels and motels. The health department also administers water quality testing.

Curry noted the proceeds generated by these services are utilized for local disease surveillance to keep our community healthy and safe from disease outbreaks. They also fund immunizations, emergency preparedness, and public education such as training for day care providers to ensure children are provided a safe environment and care from trained providers.

Another key service offered through the health department is the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program, a supplemental food and nutrition service that ensures pregnant women, infants and children can receive healthy foods.

"But it is the Home Health Agency part that has supported the health department most of the past 32 years," said Curry. "But now with Medicare changes and cuts and state dollars being cut, we rely even more on the home health portion of the agency."

She pointed out that individuals who have suffered an acute illness requiring hospitalization or a medication change, that has left them homebound, may qualify for home-based services.

"We can work with you and your health care provider to see that you get the care you need," Curry stated. "We continue to staff registered nurses, all with high levels of experience, and we have contracts for physical and occupational therapy."

The Home Health Agency offers 24/7 call service for all patients on home care services.

"We depend on serving our county residents in home health needs to provide for funding for the many public services we do at no cost," Curry stated. "Our Medicare quality measures rank high if not higher that the other providers listed as eligible to serve Medicare patients in Scotland County."

Residents with questions or concern about home care services in Scotland County can contact Curry or the department's home care supervisor, Ginny Monroe.

"In this ever growing and competitive market, many agencies will be vying for your service, but only one agency, the Scotland County Health Department. Home Health Agency will put those dollars directly back into your county public and home care services here in Scotland County," stated Curry.

There are cards at the Scotland County Health Department/Home Health Agency that can be carried with insurance cards to be presented to healthcare providers and hospital staff when a patient is admitted for care. The administrator stated that these cards indicate a patient's preference to work with the health department for any resulting homebound healthcare services.

"We need your support during these difficult economic times, both in patience and also in trust of service," Curry stated. "We ask you to call us any time with questions, and to ask for us in your time of illness and health."

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