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Cass HHVS reports on outreach project

WALKER — Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services (HHVS) has undertaken a countywide outreach in the last year.

It now offers most of the same services in an office at the land department building in Backus as at the main office in Walker. Their newly published booklet to serve as a report on 2012 activities is a full-color presentation of their services.

The public will soon be able to review the booklet as a PDF interactive feature on the county website at

HHVS spent $12,756,513 in 2012 and took in $15,091,514. it’s 2012 budget expected $13,140,817 receipts and expenditures.

Within each division, the agency named a team leader in 2012, who carries a case load and supervises eight to 10 employees. Many HHVS employees take their training courses over interactive television to save travel costs.

HHVS has an average of 40 volunteer drivers who drove over 104,000 miles in 2012 to take seniors to appointments. The service cost $57,632 and was supported by $6,160 in donations and fees. The veterans transportation program drove 225 veterans 60,848 miles in 2012.

HHVS collects child support payments from non-custodial parents and pays that to custodial parents, whether or not the family receives support benefits. That caseload increased annually from 1,791 in 2009 to 1,834 in 2012.

When combined with day care support and medical support the total child support payments dropped 4.7 percent from 2011 to $2,688,800.25 in 2012. Some of that decrease is attributed to cases being shifted to Leech Lake Reservation social services.

The five staff people in Cass child support division conducted a phone campaign to increase payments from non-custodial parents in July 2012 and brought in an additional $10,000 payments due.

Child support staff can now take a scraping of cheek cells to determine paternity, so nurses are no longer needed to take blood tests for DNA samples.

The collections officer pursues collection of public assistance overpayments, estate claims, detoxification fees, out of home placement fees and other fees from clients. A total of $150,936 was collected in 2012, with the county allowed to keep about 25 percent and the rest paid back to state and federal programs.

The cost Cass paid for client detoxification services dropped from $173,435 in 2011 to $110,547 in 2012 as the client caseload declined from 200 to 142.

The income maintenance division saw a caseload increase from 2,983 at the end of 2008 to 3,656 at the end of 2012. Public assistance health care spending in the county was up over $4.5 million in 2012. The state now handles the county’s MinnesotaCare client’s insurance paperwork.

While those using the family cash program declined in 2012, the number of individuals using the cash program increased as did the number receiving food support (SNAP program). Annual health care program costs increased from $62,321,569 in 2011 to $66,930,299 in 2012.

All people who wanted child care assistance were able to access that in 2012, with those using the service dropping from 481 in December 2011 to 211 in December 2012 and costs declining from $72,990 to $44,618.

Cass’s fraud prevention program saved $3.25 in excess benefits payments for every dollar spent to identify fraudulent claims.

HHVS provides adult mental health case management people who have a serious and persistent mental illness or who are willing to have a diagnostic assessment. Woodview Support Services now provides community support services to 65 people the county referred for help toward becoming self-sufficient.

The children’s mental health unit managed 56 cases at the end of 2012.

The county’s chemical dependency treatment costs rose from $74,288 in 2011 to $123,474 in 2012, but detoxification costs remained steady at just over $114,000.

HHVS provides vulnerable adult protection services to ensure those who are fragile physically or mentally are not abused in their own home or a care facility. There also are programs to provide sufficient at home services to keep older people in their own home or an assisted living setting as long as they are able with assistance.

The agency coordinates care for those who have suffered a brain injury, are chronically ill or medically fragile, with 76 consumers in 2012. Service costs ran $3,821,088.

They also provided intermediate care services to 166 developmentally disabled people on a waiver program at a cost of $7,142,677 and served another 52 with $253,872 in services on a non-waiver program.

HHVS assist with adoptions and especially attempts to facilitate the process when a family member or step-parent wants to adopt a child. They also assist with coordinating child and adult day care and foster care and licensing those services.

The veterans services office connects veterans with programs available to them. The office had 2,578 contacts with veterans in 2012 at the agency’s offices in Walker and Backus and at satellite appointment dates in Pine River, Cass Lake, Remer and Pillager.

Public health division works to prevent disease, prepare for emergencies and protect and promote health in the community.

Their 2011 to 2015 strategic plan calls for visiting expectant mothers in their homes to prevent high risk pregnancies, increasing immunization coverage, reducing obesity, participating in Minnesota Department of Health training, increasing communications with the public about healthy behavior and to increase collaboration with other agencies serving Cass County residents.

Health service nurses made 772 visits with 470 parents and potential parents of young children at their homes and in clinics in 2012. Among the services were parenting advice, providing child car seats, pediatrics services and family planning information.

The nurses also offer Women, Infant and Children (WIC) clinics where mothers receive financial and nutrition education assistance. The average monthly number served in that program has declined from 835 in 2010 to 704 in 2012.

There is a follow along program to track physical health and social development from birth to age 3.

Health services offers immunization clinics for children and adults. They served 811 clients at 64 clinics in 2012, an increase over the 452 served in 2009 and 444 served in 2010, but down from the 925 served in 2011.

Health service employees regularly train for disaster emergencies, how they would coordinate services with other emergency services and coordinate with Minnesota Health Alert.

They encourage people to test their homes for radon gas, which can rise from the ground into homes and can lead to lung cancer. They work with the sheriff’s department to provide Take It To the Box collection of people’s expired and unused prescription drugs. They help screen children for the presence of lead through blood tests.

Health services engages teens each year to attempt to purchase tobacco products as an adult accompanies them, so businesses selling those products can be checked for compliance with laws against selling to minors.

County health offers a discount drug card for anyone who wants to use it, regardless of income. County residents saved $207,790.08 using their drug cards in 2012. The card also can be used for some dental services, vision, hearing and pet medications, depending upon the vendor.

Public health provides child and teen checkup clinics in Pine River, Remer, Longville, Walker and Pillager monthly. They help families identified with children who have hearing loss or birth defects to obtain services for their children.

Nurses offer foot care and health screenings for seniors at monthly clinics in cities around the county.

Health services provided nursing, home health aide and therapy services to 612 unduplicated clients in their own homes during 2012, down slightly from the total in recent years.