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St. Lawrence County CHHA will stop taking patients

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CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Certified Home Health Agency will stop taking new patients Sunday and layoffs at the Public Health Department could begin the next day.

The county agency and its Long-Term Home Health Care Program were casualties of last year’s budget discussions when legislators decided to shut them down because of increasing competition and the cost of providing the service.

The county agency has 159 patients. As the numbers decrease, layoffs will accelerate. The county projected an overall loss of 32 positions.

For the immediate impact, five people will likely file for unemployment, Human Resources Director Christopher S. Boulio told legislators Monday.

Two clerical workers will transfer into Community Services after a reorganization of some positions in that department. One clerical worker is slated for layoff, Mr. Boulio said.

Of nine home health aides and licensed practical nurses, five filed for retirement. One took a job at a nutrition site through the Office for the Aging, Mr. Boulio said.

Registered nurses are finding jobs with Health Services of Northern New York, another CHHA operating within the county. Others have retired or found work at other healthcare institutions, Mr. Boulio said.

The county has received its closure notice from the state Health Department, Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire said.

Last year, the state lifted a moratorium on new CHHAs to coincide with a redesign of Medicaid so that it has enough of the agencies as it moves into more managed care.

The state has already approved the application of Northern Lights — a partnership of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley and United Helpers Management Co. — to operate a CHHA in the county. Two other agencies have also filed applications to operate CHHAs in the county.

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