DHD2 home health care program to be discontinued

HARRISVILLE — The long-running District Health Department No. 2 home health care program is slated to be decertified this winter.

The announcement was given to the Alcona County Board of Commissioners during a Wednesday meeting by Commissioner Kathleen Vichunas, who is the county representative for DHD No. 2’s board.

The health department covers Alcona, Iosco, Arenac and Oscoda counties.

The home health care program provided in-home nursing for the elderly, older home-bound individuals or anyone who needed continued skilled or therapeutic aid in their home.

Vichunas said DHD No. 2 Health Office Denise Bryan said the program will end through DHD No. 2 in a few months.

“My guess is they are going to move the people out of the system and she said that MidMichigan Health is going to take over,” Vichunas said.

She said that organization has its own home health program and Bryan’s rationale was there is no point in maintaining the DHD No. 2 program when patients move over to the other organization.

Chairman Craig Johnston recognized maintaining home health care has been an issue for some time.

“It has been a slow death for a number of years; for four or five years,” he said.

Vichunas said during the meeting Bryan outlined that the program was losing money. Additionally one of the program’s heads is retiring. Vichunas said the program’s closure would leave four or five providers without work.

“They might have to be laid off but Bryan is hoping they can do something with them,” she said.

Johnston said he was surprised more people did not take advantage of the program.

“In our county we’re a little more limited in getting people home health care,” he said.

Commissioner Carolyn Brummund said there was an incident 20 years ago where a local hospital was directing patients to its home health care program.

“They are obligated to tell you all the options for home health care, I’m sure that continued to some degree even though they were cited. There have been times where home health care has been extremely vibrant,” she said.

Johnston said although it was sad to see DHD No. 2’s program go to the wayside it was important that there is still an existing program with different agencies.

Vichunas said the thought is many of the home health care workers will go to the other agencies because they’re working part time. She also said Bryan told the health department board the decertification process would take a few months to complete and is not a short process.

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.