County officials will look into homecare optionGoodhue County officials have been approached by a state agency interested in purchasing the county's homecare health program.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County officials have been approached by a state agency interested in purchasing the county's homecare health program.
"This is not a given thing at all, but a positive possibility," said Karen Main, Public Health Service director. "We just don't know really enough about it to be certain yet."
Commissioners recently indicated the desire to privatize the homemaker program to save the county money.
The homecare program provides nurse, health aides and homemaker services to hundreds of county residents.
Officials said Tuesday they will gather more details about a possible sale and report back to the County Board.
Selling the program, Main said, would mean cash for the county and give more than 20 staff members who would otherwise be laid off job opportunities with the agency that purchases the program.
Main said clients could then receive the same services from many of the same nurses and aides or choose a different provider.
"There would be total continuity of care for the people," Main said. "A lot of the same staff, the same care plan."
Main said there is a market for buying homecare agencies because the Medicare certification that comes along with the program is hard to come by.
"You almost can't get it these days starting from scratch," Main said.
Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel has hesitated to endorse the program's privatization since his rural constituents would likely have the hardest time finding other providers.
He said Tuesday he hoped a sale would include an agreement that all parts of the county would continue receiving homecare services.
"I see this as being a really, really good development," Rechtzigel said.
Despite the potential upsides, county officials say they will continue researching a possible sale with caution and move forward with plans to privatize homecare.
Commissioners on Tuesday approved a plan outlining layoff strategies and next steps associated with privatization.
Administrator Scott Arneson said that plan - which included more than 20 layoffs - is to be implemented if a sale does not look possible.
"This is one more wait-and-see for staff," Main said. "But I think it's worth it."