DOBSON — The Surry County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Monday, regarding the resolution of intent to sell the county home health agency.
County Attorney Ed Woltz expects some of the agency’s employees to speak on the resolution, which has remained a hot-button issue since its announcement in March. Many employees voiced their opposition to the board’s decision in the general open forum on March 19. Nonetheless, tomorrow will mark the first public hearing officially designated toward the home health agency.
No matter what is said in the hearing, the commissioners will listen to the viewpoints without making a motion immediately afterward. Ron Clitherow of the consulting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, which is assisting the county with the sale, will then send new information to potential buyers of the home health agency. Those individuals will, in return, send their purchase proposals to county officials for review. The commissioners will hold another public hearing at a later date to be announced.
The value in the home health agency arrives from its state-provided certificate of need. Such certifications are rarely, if ever, provided nowadays, although they are transferable. Hence, certain organizations could be interested in the agency due to its certificate of need in Surry County. When an organization obtains the agency, its operations will suddenly be extended to anywhere within a 50-mile radius.
Profit and deficit numbers released
When the board opted to sell the home health agency, Commissioner Paul Johnson commented, “We can’t continue to lose $500,000 to $600,000 per year.”
For the fiscal year 2011-12, the agency’s deficit was $654,252 as of March 30, a 15.8-percent increase over its $550,610 deficit in the fiscal year 2010-11.
Within the past five fiscal years, the deficit was lowest in 2009-10 with $95,213, the only time in that period in which the loss did not reach a six-digit figure. By comparison, the previous fiscal year, 2008-09, resulted in a deficit of $498,709.
The agency saw its line of deficits begin in the fiscal year 2007-08, with $151,757. Prior to that, the profits were as follows: $189,692 (2006-07), $101,193 (2005-06) and $390,786 (2004-05). Even with certain expenditures, such as an animal shelter in the fiscal year 2005-06, the agency saw solid numbers until late last decade.
Betty Taylor, assistant county manager for Budget and Finance, noted that the numbers should not be taken at face value.
“You can’t look at one single year and say, ‘This is a trend,’” she cautioned.
For instance, the agency still faced expenditures and gained revenue for each fiscal year even after that year had ended. Whenever the agency received a monetary amount of significant size, the money was placed in the year for which it was intended. Only in the rarest of circumstances, when payments were received far too late, was the money placed in the present fiscal year rather than the previous one.
Still, the county home health agency’s deficit problem grew as federal and state reimbursements, such as from Medicaid and Medicare, continued to drastically decline after 2007. In addition, the agency saw its market share plummet, as private home health agencies entered the county.
When it began in 1967, the Surry County home health agency had a market share of 100 percent. Today, that number is less than 20 percent.
Reach Josh Armstrong at 719-1921 or email@example.com.