Health board asked to pitch in for transports PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 14 February 2014 11:30
Wood County Board of Health members were asked Thursday to help fill in the gaps as Job and Family Services pursues an expanded transportation system.
Federal and state funding would make up 80 to 90 percent of the program, which is designed to offer rides to medical appointments, primarily within Wood County, said JFS Director Dave Wigent.
Wigent has asked the county boards of health and drug addition and mental health services to "put some skin in the game," as it would be a benefit to clients of those agencies.
Wigent and Michael Fuller, JFS assistant director, explained that while their funding would cover most transportation users within 200 percent of the poverty level, keeping the program simple and accessible to all in the county would require a buy-in from a few other groups. The request was for up to $50,000, though Wigent said he does not expect all that money would be used. Nothing would be provided up front, but when JFS funding could not be applied to a ride, which averages $50, an invoice could be sent to the health district or the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, if they agree to help.
"I'm emphasizing the 'up to' ($50,000), because it would not surprise me if we only spent a fraction of that," Wigent said, noting that most families above the 200-percent line have access to their own private transportation. "Those funds would be reserved for clients that we couldn't fund through the JFS funding sources."
This would be an expansion of the Non-Emergency Transportation program, which Wigent said is in place at some level in every county in Ohio. Wigent and Fuller outlined the details to the health board but asked for no firm commitment Thursday.
Still to be arranged is who would coordinate the program and service the 800-number residents could call to schedule a ride. Wigent said the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to programs like Medicaid, but health care coverage doesn't mean much to someone who can't get to a doctor's appointment. Keeping funding local, rather than applying for grants, allows the project to remain under control by participants and narrow in scope, he said. And if it's not operating as intended, it can be modified or shut down at the organizers' discretion.
During a discussion of health district clients who are eligible for Medicaid but do not apply for it, board member Frank McLaughlin suggested making it a requirement.
Wigent agreed and said terms of eligibility could be included in a memorandum of understanding between participating agencies.
"The MOU would have eligibility criteria, and I agree with you," Wigent said. "If someone's eligible for Medicaid, we're not going to fund (transportation) for them out of local levy dollars.
"The feds have had fun pushing costs down to us for years, I want to push a few back in their direction," Wigent said.
Responding to questions from health board member Richard Strow about whether the service could bring new clients to the health district, Wigent said it was tough to predict usage before setting up the program. But Wigent said he wouldn't be surprised if the district came out "in a wash or on top" by serving new clients who previously did not use health district services because they lacked transportation.
"This is sort of the 'Field of Dreams' approach - build it and they will come," Wigent said. 
Separately, the board accepted the resignation of a long-time member Thursday.
Sandy Flick, who joined the board in 1999, said she was stepping down for professional reasons, with demands increasing in her position with the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Flick said she deeply appreciated the work of her fellow board members and also Health Commissioner Pam Butler, who she called "a gem."
In other business, the board approved:
• Up to $18,000 for a job audit to be performed by law firm Fishel, Hass, Kim and Albrecht. Butler said she did not believe such an audit has ever been performed by the district.
• A $16,028.99 contract with Robert Half Finance and Accounting.
• Strategic planning retreats for the board not to exceed $3,500.
• Paying $180 to the Wood County Recorder to file judgment entries required to collect a $15,000 fine assessed to Louis Bauer, 545 Glenwood Road, Rossford. The filing was required to begin a foreclosure action in an attempt to collect the long-standing fine.
Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 11:46

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