County Board favors merging aging department with ADRC
Supervisors also request withdrawing from regional long-term care district
BY KEVIN BONESKE
After taking up much of Tuesday’s meeting on the issue, the Oneida County Board voted 16-4 in favor of a resolution authorizing the county’s Department on Aging to notify the state of the intent for the county to operate its own Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) and withdraw as a partner of the ADRC of the Northwoods.
Supervisors Ted Cushing, Billy Fried, Mike Timmons and Scott Holewinski voted against the resolution, which had been tabled at the June meeting so that more information could be brought forward for supervisors to consider this month.
The resolution, which notes in January 2012 Oneida County entered into a long-term care district with three other counties and three tribes to jointly operate an ADRC, stated integrating county aging units with ARDCs in Wisconsin would “enhance coordination and reduce duplication of effort in service delivery.”
However, ADRC of the Northwoods regional manager Terese Poe said the integrated model wouldn’t be more efficient.
“Aging employees and ADRC employees each have very distinctive roles, and a customer may have to see multiple workers, depending on what their issues are, and this will not change,” Poe said.
County Health and Aging Committee chairman Bob Mott and Department on Aging director Dianne Jacobson were among those who urged supervisors to support an application to the Wisconsin Department of Health Service for the county to become an integrated aging unit and ADRC.
Jacobson said there are “three top reasons” for merging aging with ADRC into one agency.
“No. 1, merging into one entity is the best model for delivering these services,” she said. “No. 2: A merged agency offers improved customer service. And No. 3: Merging into one entity is a better use of resources (and) allows Oneida County local control to maximize funding and services for our citizens.”
Jacobson said the majority of counties in the state “have merged aging and ADRC services as the best model for their citizens.”
“All counties now have ADRCs, but not all are merged,” she said. “The state is encouraging ADRCs to return to their roots and join forces with aging to create the best model for delivering services.”
Jacobson, who noted Oneida County’s allocation for ADRC state funds and the federal match is currently $415,000, said under the regional model the county retains only 62 percent of that amount for its branch office with the other 38 percent retained by the ADRC for regional operations.
“As a stand-alone ADRC, Oneida County would keep the total amount, allowing full local control,” she said. “The full allocation would be used to expand or add new services to the public and reduce duplication and be a much more efficient use of staff.”
Jacobson said passing the resolution, which calls for withdrawing from the ADRC of the Northwoods by Jan. 1, 2018, is the first step in the application process to operate as the ADRC of Oneida County.
“This fall, we will return again to this (County Board) body for approval of our full application with all the specific details of running an ADRC,” she said.
A March 1 memo from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services noted up to $30,000 in one-time funding would be available for a county submitting a request to integrate an aging unit with an ADRC with the funding remaining available until Sept. 1. State officials, including Anne Olson, who directs the Department of Health Services Office for Resource Center Development, attended Tuesday’s County Board meeting.
One of the other counties in the ADRC of the Northwoods, Vilas County, is also seeking to withdraw from the regional partnership with its County Board recently passing a resolution to that effect. A Vilas County supervisor, Erv Teichmiller, was on hand for Tuesday’s meeting in Rhinelander.