Press-Republican

Health

October 18, 2013

Essex County short of nurses

ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County may hire another full-time visiting nurse while it waits to see if two outside agencies start taking home-health clients in the county.

The County Board of Supervisor Human Services Committee OK’d the hiring this week, 8 to 1, with Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) absent.

The measure gets another vote Monday, Oct. 28, and a final vote at the board’s regular session on Monday, Nov. 4.

Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) voted against the hiring, saying the county should wait until the process for the 2014 budget is further along.

‘JUMP IN CASES’

Essex County Public Health Director Linda Beers asked for the new position for the Certified Home Health Agency within her department.

“We’ve seen an increase,” she said. “We have an aging population. We’re as lean as we can run.”

A State Department of Health operations audit noted they were at minimum staff, she told supervisors.

“We are responsible to give care to the citizens of Essex County,” Beers said. “I am going to tell you that is troubling to do with our amount of staff.”

She said they have 52 more patients and 730 more visits to date than last year. There were 65 referrals in last 20 days, she said.

“That’a huge number. We have a per-diem nurse starting; she’s going to take one region.”

‘LOSING NURSES’

The board previously approved two per-diem nurses, but they found only one, she said.

Certified Home Health Agency Director of Patient Services Sarina Nicola said they are losing nurses at an alarming rate.

“A couple of nurses have already come forward about the possibility of leaving. I have another per diem considering leaving.”

Beers said two firms from out of the area got certificates of need — which are operating licenses — from the state to start taking home-health patients in Essex County.

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