REGIONAL—Sanford Sheldon Medical Center is ending its homemakers’ program with O’Brien County effective June 30.
The program provides nonmedical home-care needs for about a dozen county residents in part to allow them to continue living in their homes rather than in a nursing home, according to Sanford Sheldon CEO Rick Nordahl. Some of those services include washing dishes and general cleaning around the home.
“It’s really a point of contact from an outside person to see how people are doing,” Nordahl said.
The program has been operated by Sanford Health for more than 10 years.
“Over the past several years we’ve had about 70 percent of the funding cut from the state grant by either the state reducing the amount of the grant or the county reducing the percentage of the grant that we receive,” Nordahl said. “Three years ago, we were getting about $25,000 a year from the state grant. This next year we would have gotten $12,000. It became a non-sustainable program at this point. I'm not happy about the decision that we had to make.”
He said Sanford Sheldon contributes $50,000-60,000 annually to the program, at which it takes a loss.
During the 2018-19 fiscal year, Sanford Sheldon received 40 percent of the Local Public Health Services Grant. In May, the O’Brien County Board of Public Health unanimously voted to reduce Sanford Health’s share by 10 percent, or about $5,000. In 2018-19, the total grant given was $43,320. It is $43,073 for the upcoming fiscal year.
Nordahl announced at the May 21 O’Brien County Board of Supervisors meeting that Sanford Sheldon would be ending the program.
“We were actually told in the meeting that Rick said if we didn’t fund them he would find another source; so we were very surprised to find out he eliminated the program altogether,” said O’Brien County Public Health nurse administrator Judy Nieuwenhuis. “I’m hoping that Sanford will still work with us. I’m hoping this doesn’t cause Rick to not want to work with us. It was never our intention of cutting them off. It’s just the board felt that we could use the resources to cover more of O’Brien County than the small number they were servicing.”
With O’Brien County no longer allocating funds from the state grant to the homemakers’ program, those funds will be used by the public health department.
“So many times we have great programs in place that slowly get underfunded. I know Sanford was putting a lot of Sanford funds into this program to keep it going,” said supervisor and county board of health chairman Dan Friedrichsen.