Around this time—“this time” being near the beginning of June—Long Term Care’s nurse supervisor, Marge Owens, named the licensed home health care agencies with whom the county contracts: All Metro Health Care, Home Aides of CNY, Interim Health Care, Maxim of NY and Stafkings Healthcare System.
A licensed home health care agency provides home health aides who will do housework and personal care, e.g., wash the dishes and the patient. A CHHA (pronounced “Chah”–Certified Home Health Agency) may provide home health aides and does provide nurses, who change catheters, bandages, etc. There are six CHHAs in Onondaga County and the county contracts with two or three of them—St. Joseph’s Hospital, maybe St. Camillus Home Care, and the aforementioned substandard Visiting Nurse Association.
Now here’s the problem with Owens’ list of five agencies: in about 15 years of having home health aides, I only have worked with Home Aides of CNY and Stafkings (their nurse kept giving me a hard time about having aides doing “gourmet cooking”; in fact, we cooked meatloaf and potato salad). I never had had any contact with Interim, Maxim or All Metro. So what is going on here?
I suspect that I am being denied aide service because I filed an effective complaint against the VNA. That’s retaliation and discrimination for being a whistleblower and it’s not allowed. It also raises the possibility that the agencies the county contracts with are substandard. Consider this possibility: the agencies get their county contracts by making a financial kickback to the Republican Party. In return, the agencies are allowed to provide substandard service and get protection from the county.
I am not saying that this is what is happening. I am saying that this is the way it used to be done—um, six years ago?—and somebody should investigate if it is still being done. Maybe agencies won’t pick up my case because they know they are providing substandard service and will be caught out. And maybe they are getting away with substandard service because they bought their contracts from the county.
Here is a question: the NYS Dept. of Health lists 56 agencies that provide home health aides in Onondaga County (http://homecare.nyhealth.gov/search_results.php?form=COUNTY&rt=onondaga&show=LHCSA&PHPSESSID=874cb536f77f4acb6ebc0ec4123f3f1a#LHCSA ), so why isn’t Onondaga County contracting with, oh, 10 of them? What the heck, why not all 56? There are many agencies that are staying in business doing this job of providing home health aides, so why isn’t the county working with them?
Onondaga County says the list of Medicaid patients awaiting aides is longer now than it ever has been; there is a shortage of aides. Maybe if the county asked the other 51 agencies then they would find that there isn’t a shortage of aides. Maybe there’s just a shortage of agencies that will provide kickbacks to the county. I don’t know but I sure wish somebody—the NYS Dept. of Health (DOH) or the DOH Inspector General or the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General—would investigate.
Moving on, Adult and Long Term Care Commissioner Robert Long says that the wages paid to aides are too low to attract people to the job. He says that Medicaid wages to aides are set by the state and he’s gone to Albany and tried to get the wages raised but, he says, it has to go through the state legislature and that isn’t happening. Do I really believe that aides’ wages are set by the Legislature? Naw, I don’t much believe it, but I have been unable either to confirm or refute it. I do, however, have an appointment with State next week to try to find out.