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Genesee County Legislature makes changes in mental health staffing

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Legislator passed five resolutions Wednesday that eliminated some jobs and created others in the county’s Community Mental Health Department.

The actions position the agency for impending changes in the way the state handles mental health services, said Ellery Reaves, director of the department.

“We’re constantly trying to prepare ourselves for managed care, which we think is going to be a three-year process,” Reaves said. “We’re expecting that services will be delivered in a slightly different manner under slightly different funding.”

Legislators approved proposals that removed jobs such as staff psychologist, clinical therapist, intake clerk, part-time nurse and part-time case manager, and at the same time established secretarial, file room attendant, telephone operator and full-time case manager positions.

The moves will save the county about $55,000 this year.

Reaves said the staff psychologist position had been vacant but will be filled by contracting with an outside psychologist, resulting in more direct contact between the counselor and patient.

County Manager Jay A. Gsell said the county is taking a “holistic approach” to mental health issues in anticipation of changes at the state level.

“We need to look at other issues with each person under mental health care, such as medical, financial and prescription drug needs,” he said.

Gsell also reported that he plans to meet with state Health Department officials in Albany next month about the sale of the Genesee County Nursing Home to Premier Healthcare Management LLC of Great Neck.

In September, the county agreed to sell the 160-bed nursing facility and 80-bed adult home to the Long Island-based company for $15.2 million.

“Our application is in front of the state DOH and we’re going to see what we can do to keep this on schedule,” Gsell said. “We’re hoping that they take these two licenses – for the adult home and skilled nursing care – and move them forward together, making this a six-month instead of a nine-month approval process.”

The county had sought to unload the nursing home for some time due to mounting operating losses.

In other action, legislators:

• Ratified a new contract with the county’s Civil Service Employees Association Local 819 that provides a pay increase of 1.8 percent annually over the four years of the deal. The 280-member union agreed to contribute slightly more to health insurance costs – starting at 10 percent of the premium this year and increasing to 12 percent in 2019.

• Appointed Pamela LaGrou of the Town of Alabama as clerk to the Legislature at a salary of $51,000. LaGrou formerly was the communications and development director at the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

• Approved a budget amendment that allows the Sheriff’s Office to provide additional police services for the villages of Bergen and Oakfield through May 31 at a cost of $19,075. Bergen will pay $9,896 and Oakfield’s share will be $9,179.

• Entered into an agreement with Nicholas Cappelletti of Brockport for Health Department consultant services for nine months, beginning at the first of this year, at a rate of $25 per hour and not to exceed $2,500.