Greene County Department of Human Services to Hold Virtual Public Hearing
The Public Hearing normally is held in person at various locations throughout the county. COVID-19 has made this difficult to accomplish. We will therefore be conducting a virtual public hearing. The way this will work is that we publish this notice in the Round Table News, Facebook and the county website first. This will be done in the September issue. This will address the plan of service for 2021. Then we will be accepting questions or comments. Comments could include answers to one or more of the following questions:
1. What new services would you like to see provided by Office for the Aging?
2. Are there any changes you’d like to see in existing OFA services?
3. Any other general comments related to future services for seniors?
Anyone interested may submit questions or comments through the 15th of September by calling Maureen at 518-719-3555, mailing them to Greene County Department of Human Services, 411 Main Street, Catskill, NY 12414 Attn: Public Hearing, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject: Public Hearing or sending us a message on our Facebook page – Greene County Department of Human Services, Subject: Public Hearing.
Your comments are important and are used in the planning process for 2021. Please share your ideas and ask questions. When we receive input, we will then post the comments, suggestions, questions and answers in the Round Table New, Facebook and the county website.
The Department of Human Services provides a network of distinct services designed to meet the needs of the more than 11,800 older residents of Greene County. These services are offered through a combination of subcontracted programs and direct services provided by the Department staff and volunteers. The Department operates from six locations situated throughout the county. They are Acra, Athens, Catskill (2), Coxsackie and Jewett. Acra, Athens and Jewett are “cooking meal sites”. Coxsackie and Catskill are meal sites that have the cooked food delivered from Athens which is the Central Kitchen. The other location in Catskill is the main office which is situated on the second floor, Main Street entrance of the county building at 411 Main St.
The Department of Human Services/Aging consists of 30 full time, part time and per diem employees and over 200 active volunteers that provide services from five senior service centers and the Department’s main office. A fleet of vehicles is utilized for transportation of seniors, food and staff. Our staff numbers are down from previous years. Presently we are without 9 members of the Nutrition staff and 2 members of the Services staff. Many staff are doing double duty. Although there is a “hiring freeze” in the county, we have been given permission to hire the essential staff that is needed to maintain the Home Delivered Meal Program.
The Department of Human Services’ main office provides information and assistance, legal services with the assistance of a contracted attorney, caregiver support, energy assistance, entitlement and health insurance counseling, transportation and the operation of volunteer programs. An additional supportive service coordinated through the main office is transportation to medical appointments. Long term care services such as case management, homemaker/personal care services, home delivered meals; respite services, and personal emergency response systems provide necessary support to homebound older persons. Prior to COVID-19, over 100 seniors per day enjoyed a noon-time dinner at the 5 Senior Service Centers at which various social, health, recreational and educational activities are scheduled each month. Over 225 meals were prepared and delivered daily to the homes of homebound from these 5 locations.
COVID-19 has changed our operations. Our meal sites were temporarily closed to the general public. Those individuals that normally attended a meal site were given the option of “take out”, which is normally prohibited, or they could get a meal delivered to their home. Pursuant to the Governor’s orders our operations took on those seniors that opted for the meal delivery as well as those individuals under 60 that were disabled. Our numbers ballooned with an additional 120+ new meal clients and over 1,400 additional meals per month. We anticipate and hope that our centers will be fully open and active in 2021. We are planning that normal operations will begin when the Major Disaster Declaration (MDD) has been lifted. When new meal site managers are hired and trained we will be able to open the Coxsackie site to staff and reconvene the meal delivery and take out from that location. We will continue to offer special evening meals during the year. Many 60 year olds are still working, and they are unable to take advantage of the centers. Information on these meals will be listed in the Round Table News.
2019 had 1,219 registered clients. 3,443 seniors however in total availed themselves of information or other services that did not require registration. This is an update from the 2019 annual report that stated 2,986 people received services. In addition to the services provided to seniors, the Department targets services to the caregivers of seniors, i.e. family and friends who are caring for an older person. The Department also educates and assists people under 60 with information about long term care. This program is called NY Connects. This program creates a No Wrong Door approach to services for seniors and the disabled.
The Department’s revenues are received from a variety of sources including federal and state grants, fund-raising and client contributions. There is no fee for any of our services if you are age 60 or older and no older person is denied a service due to inability or unwillingness to pay. The only exception is for homemaking and personal care services for individuals who based on their income level are required to share in the cost of the care.
Personal Care services are one of the most needed and one of the most difficult to arrange. The shortage of Aides in New York is an ongoing problem. We are working with the Association on Aging and New York State Office for the Aging on possible solutions. We are once again going to investigate the possibility of providing Consumer Directed services. Consumer Directed Services is a program that was developed to empower seniors and people with disabilities (Consumers) who receive home care services to enjoy greater flexibility and freedom of choice in obtaining services. Eligible Consumers directly employ and supervise Personal Assistants to help them with personal care. Instead of being dependent upon decisions made by strangers, Consumers have complete control over recruiting, hiring, training, supervising, and terminating their Personal Assistants.
Two new wheelchair accessible small buses went into service in the beginning of 2020. We will also be taking possession of a wheelchair accessible van late in 2020 or early 2021. These changes will enable us to serve more people that we were unable to serve in the past. The bulk of the cost was paid for through a grant from NYS Department of Transportation.
Aside from any items mentioned above, we do not plan on making any major changes to the services that we offer. Staffing and funding however are always things that may temporarily force us to adjust our programming.
In addition to this abstract, copies of the 2019 annual report have been posted on the county website’s front page. Go to www.greenegov.com for an online copy or to view any county departments’ report.