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Lorain's baby health program looking ill


LORAIN — The Lorain City Health Department’s Help Me Grow program lost $134,500 in funding for the 2008 fiscal year.
Terry Tomaszewski, Lorain City Health Department’s health commissioner, said the department will be looking at its staffing level, staffing budget and caseload level to make up for the deficit.
Help Me Grow is a home-visiting program that provides health and counseling services for families with children from birth to 3 years old at risk for, or with developmental delays or disabilities. Public health nurses made 2,258 visits to Lorain families, some with more than one child, in 2006.
The state and federal funded program received $215,500 for the 2008 fiscal year, which is July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. For the 2007 fiscal year, the program received $350,000 in funds.
“At this point, we don’t know,” Tomaszewski said about how the program may be affected, adding he only got notice from the Lorain County Family and Children First Council of the award a couple weeks ago.
Lorain County’s Family and Children First Council, part of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services, is funded by the Ohio Department of Health and decided how the grants are disturbed to local programs and agencies.
Tomaszewski said the county’s request for funding from the state was changed, and in turn Help Me Grow program’s funding was decreased.
“They (the Family and Children First Council) changed the whole formula, which restricted the administrative cost for the reimbursements,” he said.
Tomaszewski said the program will not be reimbursed for 60 percent of administrative expenses. For example, a nurse could put in as many as 10 to 15 hours for a case but may be reimbursed for only 2½ hours, he said.
“We’re going to try to continue to do what we can do,” he said. “We’re going to try to absorb 60 percent of in-house cost.”
The health department’s five nurses handle about 55 cases each per month. Three nurses retired earlier this year, and Tomaszewski said the department is looking at whether to replace them or find another solution.
“Right now we’ve been awarded $215,500 for certain case loads, but we have to look at what another nurse could do and how much (money) that would look like,” he said.
Contact Rania Shakkour at 329-7127                  or rshakkour@chroniclet.com.

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