County legislature seeking proposals to privatize home healthcare services

PLATTSBURGH - The Clinton County Legislature will proceed with pursuing bids to privatize its home healthcare services.

The legislature met in regular session at the Clinton County Government Center March 16, where representatives voted 8-1 in favor of putting forth a request for proposals to "explore alternatives for home healthcare." Legislator Samuel J. Trombley, R-Area 2, cast the sole dissenting vote. Legislator Jacqueline A. Walker, R-Area 8, was absent.

Dr. John W. Gallagher, D-Area 9 - one of the legislators who voted for the resolution - addressed an audience of several dozen people who turned out to speak against privatizing the services. Gallagher emphasized the decision does not lock the legislature into making a decision to move forward with privatization.

"Hearing what I've heard tonight, if were voting on selling the home health care license tonight, I would be voting no. But, I have to vote to explore the alternatives," Gallagher said.

The matter was brought before the legislature following an increasingly large amount of money hemorrhaged by the Clinton County Health Department for operating home healthcare services. Last year, the services cost the county more than $5 million to operate, and brought in less than $3.5 million, resulting in a more than $1.5 million loss.

"Personally, I don't care if we make a single penny," said Legislator Keith Defayette, R-Area 5, "but I don't think we can continue to bleed to the tune of two, then maybe three, then maybe four million dollars in the outlying years."

Prior to the vote, legislators heard from members of the public, voicing their concerns over the idea of the county potentially giving up control of its home healthcare services.

Registered nurse Jill Parent questioned what would happen to those in need of long-term care, like the patients she sees now. With an estimated average cost of $380 a day to live in a nursing home and what would be a flood of new clients for the facilities, the option of patients being placed in a nursing home is not an option at all, she said.

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