Home health care agencies starting to curtail services because of budget stalemate

This photo taken Nov. 27, 2013 shows caregiver Warren Manchess helping Paul Gregoline with his shoes and socks, in Noblesville, Ind. As demand for senior services provided by nurses’ aides, home health aides and other such workers grows with the aging of baby boomers, so are those professions' employment of other seniors. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — More home health care agencies are having to curtail their services because of the budget stalemate at the State Capitol.

There are close to one hundred agencies that provide home health care to thousands of Connecticut residents, and they’re all in the same boat.

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64-year-old Carol Duffy of Milford has Multiple Sclerosis. It has advanced to the point that she can no longer use her hands to operate her chair and has a high tech device that works on commands she makes by moving her head. She has professional nurse care, occupational and physical therapy, and a home health aid come to her home daily at a fraction of the cost of a nursing home.

But the Visiting Nurse Services of Connecticut, which takes care of about 2,000 Connecticut residents like Carol, says it is losing money on this service under the Governor’s Executive Order. Under the House Democrats budget proposal, they would lose even more.

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The professional care givers helping Carol know they are saving the state money.   “Since we’re in the homes, we’re seeing things that patients’ families may not recognize,” said Lisa Torre who is Carol’s Registered Occupational Therapist.

Conditions can easily develop that can cause a health crisis for someone like Carol.  Joan Grogan has been a home health care R.N. for 17 years,  “We find these in the home, we give the doctors a call and then they are able to treat in the home without the need of having to go to a hospital to the emergency department.”

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More than the savings from heading off emergency room visits, the price of Carol’s home health care is about a third of what it would cost in a nursing home. Carol says the loss of home health care would drastically alter her entire family’s life saying,  “I’d be more of a burden on my family and I feel much better having them come in because they’re professionals and they know what they’re talking about whereas my husband is not.”

William Sullivan, the President and C.E.O. of V.N.S. of Connecticut says,  “As of tomorrow, unfortunately, we are going to have to begin to withdraw providing services to the state’s program for the elderly.”

Sullivan says the state is in the process of finding other provider agencies to take over these services.

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