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Legislature due to vote on home health care contract

After a two-week delay, the Cattaraugus County Legislature is expected to vote Wednesday on a contract for home health care for a homebound quadriplegic man.

If approved, the contract would pay $18 per hour to a Lakewood woman who received specialized training, obtained insurance and met other qualifications.

The county has cared for the man in his home for at least a decade, but there are no aides available to send on the assignment from the county Health Department's Home Care Nursing Division or through Homecare and Hospice.

The vote was delayed in the Feb. 11 session when lawmakers asked for more information. The contract was discussed before being sent to the Legislature by the members of the Human Services and Finance committees last week.

Public Health Director Barb Hastings said that for the past two years, her department has had to send nurses out to provide services due to the lack of qualified home health aides. She pressed the committee to send the contract back to the full Legislature immediately to provide care to the man.

Donna M. Vickman, R-Farmersville Station, questioned the contract fee, saying it exceeds the county's nursing home wage scale for certified nurse's aides and suggested the patient should be moved to a nursing home to receive the county's services.

But Hastings pointed out that the county is mandated to keep the patient in his home according to a U.S. Supreme Court decision and the national trend for elimination of nursing home beds.

"For us it's a cost savings," Hastings replied.

Lawmakers also are expected to sign a contract with Cattaraugus Community Action for a part-time employment specialist, as well as for a grant-funded case manager for employment services for youths with emotional and behavioral problems. They also are expected to consider requests for an $82,000 allocation to the Business Development Corp. and for $200,000 in tourism grants for four Chambers of Commerce and community groups.

Lawmakers agreed last week to sponsor a resolution that will be placed on Wednesday's agenda to create a new employment specialist position at $18.01 per hour in the Social Services Department. The position would be funded by a state probation grant. Decisions by committees to fill other vacancies do not require a vote by the full Legislature.

The Public Works Committee postponed action on filling a vacant maintenance supervisor job at $18.55 per hour. Several Public Works Department positions were approved, including: transfer station operator at $11.82 per hour; assistant road section supervisor at $17.27 per hour; laborer at $13.70 per hour; and driver at $15.62 per hour.

The Legislature will receive a "Food Check Out Day" presentation from the Farm Bureau as the Wednesday's session begins at 3 p.m. in the County Center, 303 Court St.

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