Express News Staff
LAKE PLEASANT -- Hamilton County has never had a hospital. Now, its nursing service is being threatened.
Hospitals that have until now referred discharged patients to Hamilton County Public Health Nursing Service for in-home care have started referring them to agencies outside the county.
Hamilton County Public Health Nursing Service Director of Public Health Susan Franco and Director of Patient Services Beth Ryan told the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors about the new development Tuesday, May 27, saying certified home health agencies (CHHAs) from outside the county have started coming here.
"This has become cutthroat," Wells Supervisor Brian Towers observed.
As Franco and Ryan explained, St. Mary's Healthcare in Amsterdam and Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville have started referring Hamilton County patients they discharge to Community Health Center of Johnstown for in-home nursing services. The two hospitals created the center.
CHHAs provide what is commonly known as "visiting nurse" services, as well as physical, occupational or speech therapy in the home. They are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, private payment and some health insurers.
Franco said other out-of-county CHHAs could be coming into the county when patients are discharged from other hospitals such as those in Albany, Glens Falls, Plattsburgh and Utica, because hospitals have contracts with CHHA providers they have created or that are located in the county of the hospital.
"The patient being discharged is supposed to be given the choice of a provider," Franco said. "Some of our patients have complained to us about being directed to an out-of-country provider."
Ryan said, "People are asking how come the hospital is setting up a nursing service not in the county? Some are saying, 'I want my local nurse.'"
Both Franco and Ryan emphasized county residents being discharged from hospitals, and who need in-home nursing services, have the right to select CHHAs of their choice.
Franco and Ryan asked the supervisors to get the word out to their residents.
The supervisors agreed to do so, but also suggested the nursing service could help by visiting the senior meal sites to explain what is happening and what seniors' rights are.
Three separate bid openings were held with all bids accepted and referred to committee for probable action when the full board of supervisors meets June 5.
For Phase II of the county's Fuel Management Consolidation Project, bids were received from Paragon Environmental Construction Inc., Brewerton, $735,400; Shaker Flats Landscaping Inc., West Lebanon, $651,987; and Environmental and Fueling Systems LLC, Troy, $678,013.
Only one bid was received for superstructure, rolled beams and related items to be used when replacing the Beaver Brook Bridge. It came from Town & County Bridge and Rail, Albany, which bid $114,470.
Only one bid was received for laminated decking and related items for the Beaver Brook Bridge, from Laminated Concepts Inc., Big Flats, $39,722.