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St. Lawrence County lays off 11 in CHHA

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CANTON — Layoff notices have gone out to 11 employees of St. Lawrence County’s Certified Home Health Agency, bringing the total so far to 14.

County legislators last year decided to eliminate the county agency and the Long-Term Home Health Care Program as a cost-saving measure and because of increasing competition.

Since then, the county has been winding down the agencies.

They have 99 patients left, 53 of them in Long-Term Care, Public Health Director Susan J. Hathaway told legislators Tuesday. The latest round of layoffs is effective March 1. An additional four layoffs will follow.

The agencies have an additional four registered nurses who eventually will move into another division of Public Health. Caring for the remaining patients who are spread throughout the county is a juggling act, Ms. Hathaway said.

“It’s a challenge. It’s an everyday figuring-it-out,” she said. “We must care for the patients.”

Health Services of Northern New York is the county’s other operating CHHA, which has hired four of the county’s former employees. Some have applied for jobs with Northern Lights, a partnership of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley and United Helpers Management Co., but it is not expected to open its doors to CHHA patients until June.

“None of the people laid off have been offered positions,” Ms. Hathaway said.

There have been seven retirements, four resignations and four employees who transferred to other jobs in the county, she said.

To date, three former employees have filed for unemployment. A total of five are expected to apply for the benefit, Human Resources Director Christopher S. Boulio said.

“Some of them are opting to go back to school,” Ms. Hathaway said. “It’s a variety of options people are choosing.”

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