Insurance issues delay more aides for seniors

HUDSON–Columbia County is waiting for the resolution of insurance and liability issues before it can directly contract with personal care aides (PCA’s) to provide services to local senior citizens.

County Office for the Aging Administrator Kevin McDonald told the county Board of Supervisors Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday, November 14 that one issue is whether PCA’s will need their own insurance and whether the county will provide it.

PCA’s assist their clients with housekeeping, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry and basic daily living chores. Procedures classified as medical require Home Health Aides (HHA’s) and nurses.

Currently the County supplies PCA’s and HHA’s by contracting with agencies, but it has more people on its waiting list for PCA’s than the agencies have available. Some have been on the list over a year.

In September the Health and Human Services Committee decided that the county should try subcontracting with PCA’s directly. Nurses from the county Department of Health would train and supervise them. The county would also continue to contract with agencies for PCA’s, which would increase the total number of PCA’s available for people whom they can benefit.

After the issues are resolved and the PCA subcontracting put in place, “I think the program will expand,” said Supervisor William Hughes (D-Hudson, 4th Ward).

The two county departments most involved with providing PCA’s and HHA’s are the Office for the Aging and the Department of Social Services (DSS). DSS Commissioner Robert Gibson said that one of the current nursing care providers had asked him “to write a letter so that they can raise their rates.”

The Health and Human Services Committee is not scheduled to meet again until early next year.

In a related matter, student nurses from Columbia Greene Community College will follow school nurses as they do their activities, Hudson City School District Superintendent Dr. Maria L. Suttmeier reported at a School Board meeting November 13.

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