LEWISTOWN - The Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday approved crafting a letter of support for the rehab and memory support addition project being planned at the Valley View Haven Retirement Community in Belleville.
Randy French, Valley View executive director, said the letter of support is a requirement from the United States Department of Agriculture, which is where the facility is applying for financing.
"Part of the requirement for USDA funding is a certification of support from local government," French said.
Sentinel photo by JOE CANNON
The Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday adopted a proclamation recognizing February as “American Heart Month” and Feb. 10-16 as “Cardiac Rehabilitation Week.” Participating in the proclamation ceremony were, standing from left, Erma Knarr and Melissa Brytczuk, staff members for Lewistown Hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Program, and seated, from left, Commissioners Kevin Kodish, Mark Sunderland and Otis Riden.
The plan, according to French, is to construct a 40-bed addition to the nursing home, 20 of which will be dedicated to the care of residents suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, and 20 more for the facility's short-term rehabilitation program.
French said the expansion program in Belleville will coincide with the eventual closure of nursing home services at the Malta Home in Granville, which Valley View also owns.
"We believe it (the expansion) will be a benefit to the community," French noted, adding, "There are not enough specialized beds for memory care in the county. It's the same thing for short-term rehab."
French said another USDA requirement is a need to demonstrate the project will not adversely affect other providers in the area.
"We don't believe that will be the case," he stated.
In fact, French said transferring beds and staff from the Malta Home may actually be a creator of additional jobs in the future.
In other business Thursday, the commissioners adopted a proclamation recognizing February as "American Heart Month" and Feb. 10-16 as "Cardiac Rehabilitation Week."
The proclamation noted that heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States. Its victims are women and men of all ages, backgrounds and ethnic origins.
"Furthermore, it continues to be one of our nation's most costly and widespread health problems and is among the most preventable," Commissioner Mark Sunderland read from the proclamation.
During Cardiac Rehab Week, the proclamation encourages local residents to give thanks to the area's cardiac rehab nurses, doctors, dieticians and smoke cessation counselors that work closely with cardiac patients in building necessary life skills for living a heart-healthy life.
On hand to accept the proclamation were Erma Knarr and Melissa Brytczuk, both members of the cardiac rehab staff at Lewistown Hospital.
In other news, the commissioners heard the quarterly report from Chris Wysocki, administrator of Tri-County Behavioral and Developmental Services.
Wysocki said the agency has had no problems administering services so far this fiscal year, even though state funding remained flat. Two areas in which the former MH/MR organization was able to see significant cost-savings this year were $100,000 less in health insurance premiums and a $60,000 savings by switching phone/internet providers, Wysocki reported.
Wysocki said the agency does not expect to see cuts in state funding following Gov. Tom Corbett's budget address to the state legislature on Tuesday.
"We're looking at a potential four percent increase as they continue to look at ways to get people out of the state hospitals," Wysocki noted. "We only have 11 clients in state facilities so we don't feel it will affect our budget that much."
In other business Thursday, the commissioners:
Approved purchase of service agreements for use, if needed, by Children & Youth, with Glen Mills Schools of Concordville, and Skills of Central PA of Altoona.
Approved an inmate housing agreement with Snyder County to run through Dec. 31, 2016, should that municipality need to have inmates housed out-of-county in the future.
Approved a purchase of service agreement with Michael S. Gingerich, Esquire, as guardian ad litem for the Children and Youth Agency for the period June 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 at a cost of $50 per hour.
Approved an agreement with Geographic Information Services of Birmingham, Ala. for a software assessment to customize communication between the county's GIS Department and 911 Dispatch Center at a cost of $6,000.
Approved an agreement of affiliation between the county and the Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing to allow nursing students to observe activity in the 911 center.
Accepted with regret the resignation of Sherry Young from the Mifflin County Correctional Facility, effective Jan. 29.