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County Home prepares for changes

Plans are already underway for changes at the Washington County Home under the guidance of the new director, Deanna Green.

Fiscal and administrative work for the home will soon be handled by Washington County Job and Family Services.

Flite Freimann, JFS director, said any discussion on the home has to start with the work retired director Jeff Campbell did over the past six years.

“When you look at the congregate care of other facilities and having COVID run rampant through them and the fact that he was able to keep that out of the county home has been really remarkable,” Freimann said.

He explained the county is fortunate to have a place for residents to go who are not ready for a nursing home.

“But they’re also not ready financially or emotionally to live entirely on their own,” he noted.

He said after discussions between JFS and the Washington County Commission, it was determined his offices could provide administrative and fiscal support to the county home.

“So the county home employees and Deanna Green and her staff could focus on programming and support for the seniors,” Freimann remarked. “Everybody’s kind of limited to 40 hours, give or take, and at the end of the day, if you’re spending a lot of your time worried about keeping the lights on and paying the bills, that’s not time you’re worried about taking care of the seniors and keeping the home vibrant and an important part of our community.”

He said county home officials would take the next few months to build on things that are being done right and leverage new opportunities when available.

Residents and employees will not see any changes, Freimann stressed.

“What we hope is that after we have an opportunity to do a review that we’re going to be able to offer more services to the folks out there,” he noted. “We hope to give an opportunity for some of the employees out there to continue to grow and develop professionally.”

Washington County Commissioner Jamie Booth said this isn’t a merger.

“What we have done is, in essence, contract JFS to take care of the administrative and fiscal duties,” he said.

Freimann said when discussions began with the commissioners, he made the statement that he wants people to understand the commissioners will oversee the county home and everything that goes with it.

“What this provides for us, to me, is leverage when it comes to more state and federal funds that basically helps our seniors in Washington County,” he remarked.

Commission President Kevin Ritter said the reality is that there are a lot of folks who qualify for programs available through Adult Protective Services through JFS.

“One of the benefits we’re going to see is bringing Deanna in (as APS director), we’re going to be able to make those residents aware of some of the programs that can help support them,” Ritter said.

Freimann said being able to put a lot of services together in one location just adds efficiencies to the system, and hopefully adds some social conductivity, looking at the social determinants of health.

“We are a community rich in resources, but sometimes getting those resources to people who live in some of the further outlying areas — who might live in New Matamoras or Beverly or Little Hocking — becomes a challenge so we can start to consolidate some services.”

He said they’re going to keep coming back to this term of leverage.

“These resources … we’ve got a beautiful county home that’s a beautiful facility and a beautiful farm and it’s been well built and well maintained. We have this levy funding that the very generous taxpayers of this county have continued to support by wide margins, and then we have our access to state and federal funds. And we want to bring these all together.”

He said ultimately, if JFS taking care of fiscal and administrative duties doesn’t work, it’s not a merger that has to be undone.

“It’s simply at the date that the commissioners want to take over fiscal and administrative control again, it’s a matter of saying ‘we’re taking over again,'” he explained.

***

At a Glance:

¯ Job and Family Services contracted with Washington County Home.

¯ Fiscal and administrative work will be handled by JFS.

¯ Officials stressed this is not a merger.

¯ Deanna Green, the new county home director, also works for JFS.

Source: Times research.

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