Yates County is getting out of the home health care business. As a group of Public Health workers — many dressed in black — looked on Aug. 8, the Yates County Legislature unanimously agreed to sell the county’s Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA) to Lifetime Care of Rochester for $800,000.

The resolution was introduced “with reluctance” by District I Legislator Doug Paddock, chair of the Human Services Committee. He said the process has been stressful for everyone and added, “I would like to commend everyone for their willingness to work together. I wish we were not in this situation.”

Following the vote, which was unanimous with District III Legislator Patrick Galvin absent, Chairman Taylor Fitch called the decision “very difficult.”  He said the next step is to make sure  customers are comforted and their care will continue.

Addressing the workers, Fitch said, “You are extremely valuable people to the community and have been there for Yates County. We love you all and we’re sorry we had to make this decision.”

The Public Health Department will continue to manage and provide home health services until a management contract between Lifetime Care and county officials is signed.

Then, Lifetime Care will manage the services under the county’s certificate until the actual sale is final and the certificate is transferred to Lifetime Care. The county will receive payment for the sale at that point —  some time in 2012.

The revenue will be used to set up an assigned fund for Human Services expenses, says Purdy.

In related action, the legislature unanimously approved one-time bonus payments of $2,000 to each full time employee and $1,000 to each part time employee who will no longer be employed by the county as a result of the sale.

As part of the agreement with Lifetime Care, all county employees will be offered jobs with that agency, but county officials want to keep the workers who might seek other employment on the job until the management contract is signed.

The employees will also be paid for any accrued leave time, such as vacation time or sick leave when their employment with the county ceases. The payment will be made when their county employment ceases.

County Administrator Sarah Purdy says staffing levels have been reduced to 13 full and part time employees because some workers have already left for other jobs, which has resulted in some cases being turned away because of lack of coverage.

In a statement released last week, Purdy explained, “The resolution culminates five months of research and analysis by an ad hoc committee of legislators and staff that examined whether the certificate should be sold.”

The committee came to the conclusion that keeping the CHHA certificate and continuing to have the county’s Public Health Department provide home health care services will cost Yates County approximately $600,000 in additional expenses over the next five years, according to Purdy’s statement.

The committee’s decision to recommend the sale of the certificate was based in part on this finding, which came after a review of operating expenses and revenue, data on patient visits per year and trends in Medicaid and Medicare.

Other business at Monday’s regular meeting:
• HELIPAD : The legislature approved a series of resolutions authorizing a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to design and build helipad improvements at the Penn Yan-Yates County Airport at a total projected cost of $413,940. Yates County’s share is $10,349. Engineering design will be done by Passero Associates at a cost of $48,900. The construction will be done by Babcock Enterprises at a cost of $321,439.50. Purdy requested that Sheriff Ron Spike and EMS Coordinator Chris Warriner be consulted during the design and construction process.

• HONOR: At the beginning of the meeting Fitch called for a moment of silence in honor of Henry Lafler, who died in July. Lafler was the Yates County Animal Control officer for many years.

• RECOGNITION: District I Legislator Donna Alexander, chair of the Public Safety Committee, introduced a resolution to recognize the emergency personnel and volunteers in Yates County who have responded to a series of tragedies in the past several weeks. The resolution “recognizes the terrible toll of stress and demands this takes on emergency personnel and volunteers.”