Cass County Board: 2022 a busy year for health, social and veterans offices in Cass County
Highlights include collaborative educational and listening sessions between Cass County, Leech Lake Tribal Elder Services and other counties and Operation Green Light.
WALKER — Social, health and veteran services initiatives remained busy in 2022 in Cass County, with thousands seeking assistance from the county.
Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Michele Piprude and Veteran Services Officer Kristy Smart presented their departments’ annual reports to Cass County commissioners Tuesday, April 4.
Among the highlights for 2022 were the collaborative educational and listening sessions between Cass County, Leech Lake Tribal Elder Services and other counties that share reservation borders regarding how to keep tribal elders safe. Also a highlight was Operation Green Light the week of Veterans Day, where all county buildings were illuminated green to show support for all veterans and raise awareness of the many challenges veterans face.
Smart told the board of a new law, PACT Act 2022, which expands VA health care and benefits, and allows veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War and post 9/11 eras eligibility. Though Cass County saw a 3.85% decrease in veteran population, Smart said there was an increase in her department’s activity. Cass County saw a 69% increase in appointments with the Veteran Services Office and a 92% increase in claims filed for veterans. The rise in claims filed is believed to be due to the new PACT Act and the additional number of veterans being able to claim health care, Smart said.
Cass County processed payments for $135,357,118.72 in health service bills for people who qualified for state and federal medical assistance in 2022.
Other services for qualified people and the average monthly 2022 benefits are:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for low-income people, $249.47.
- Minnesota Family Investment Program for low-income families and pregnant women, $380.10.
- Diversionary Work Program for families looking for work, $108.62.
- Child care assistance for families with low income, $2,368.46.
- General assistance for adults who have little or no income and are unable to return to work, $154.39.
- Emergency general assistance for low-income people during a crisis who need food, shelter, utilities, $440.03.
- Group residential housing pays room and board for people age 65 or older and for disabled age 18 and older or those who are blind and live in authorized settings, $411.78.
- Minnesota Supplemental Aid for adults who are eligible for federal Supplemental Security Income, $93.30.
Over the past two years courts saw an improvement in attendance of and access to court hearings due to the use of a virtual platform. This platform removed many barriers including transportation. Cass collected $2,305,421 and paid $2,271,668 to custodial parents for child support during 2022. The majority of child support was collected through income withholding.
Public health — children, youth and families
During 2022 the Women, Infants and Children program continued to be serviced virtually, which will remain in effect for 90 days beyond the end of the public health emergency and had an average of 435 participants. Local agencies are working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture and Minnesota Department of Health regarding a plan to transition to a hybrid approach for appointments for the year 2023. Participants redeemed a total of $333,529 worth of food assistance benefits between October of 2021 and September of 2022.
The Follow Along Program had 46 new clients, 170 active families and four children referred for early intervention services. This program helps parents identify where their child is at on the developmental pathway and provides ideas about “what to teach” and “at what age” to teach it at. Every child from birth to age 3 qualifies for this program.
Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting nurses conducted 354 visits to 54 families. This is a free, voluntary program that provides public health nurse home visits to families during pregnancy and up to the baby’s second birthday. Funding for the program is received through state grants, with Cass County getting $101,003.07 in 2022. Cass also received $52,201.92 through third party reimbursement and an additional $11,700 from the department of health to purchase grocery gift cards for enrolled families.
Public health — home health, long term care, prevention
During 2022 Cass County conducted 698 skilled nurse visits, 81 home health aide visits, and 127 physical therapy visits for a total of 906 home visits. The home health aide visits saw a drastic decline during the year due to the retirement of the last aide and a lack of being able to fill the position.
The “Take It To The Box” program continues to be effective in promoting the safe use, safe storage and safe disposal of unneeded over-the-counter medications, prescriptions and narcotic drugs. A total of 937 pounds of medication was disposed of during 2022.
Mental health, chemical dependency
Cass County had 98 adult mental health intakes in 2022 with 59 resulting in service provision through targeted case management. Cass County also received 45 requests for children mental health services with 28 of those requests being opened to assessment and/or case management and 26 of them being closed. At the end of 2022, 41 children continue to receive mental health case management services.
There were 383 adult maltreatment reports, with the majority of those continuing to be self neglect. In 2021, there were a total of 297 child protective reports received, 91 child protection assessments completed and 121 children involved in assessments completed, with 52% of the allegations being due to neglect.
For the complete HHVS Annual report, go to www.casscountymn.gov .
In other business, the commissioners:
Approved fourth quarter budget adjustments and transfers as presented for 2022.
Approved an easement from the Department of the Army for the County State Aid Highway 70 realignment project.
Awarded the contract for roadway striping to Sir Lines-A-Lot LLC in the amount of $156,839.56.
Adopted a resolution authorizing a grant application in the amount of $160,000 for creating a monumentation map of public land survey corners in Woodrow Township.
The next meetings are as follows: commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. April 18 at the Land Department meeting room in Backus; Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe State of the Band Address 10 a.m. April 21 at Northern Lights Casino, 6800 Y Frontage Road NW, Walker; and commissioner’s board meeting 9 a.m. May 2 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker.