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Jefferson County awarded state funds to monitor health of homebound residents with chronic illnesses

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New York state has awarded the Jefferson County Public Health Service more than $1.1 million over a period of three years to support services that help home-bound patients with chronic health problems.

The grant will provide $382,862 for the fiscal year 2013-14, $393,408 for 2014-15 and $404,475 for 2015-16, a total of $1,180,745.

The money will target populations at risk for or currently experiencing congestive heart failure, heart attacks, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.

It will be used to train staff and streamline data collection methods that will be used to monitor patients’ vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse, on a daily basis.

The information will be used to catch health problems and solve them before they get worse, according to Jefferson County Public Health Director Ginger B. Hall.

“It gives us a really good picture of what’s going on with the patients when they are outside the physician’s office,” Mrs. Hall said.

A portion of the funds will be put toward enhancing telehealth or telemedicine programs, which allow nurses and other health-care professionals to care for more patients using technology.

“In addition to home visits, telehealth allows us to be in the home without actually having a person there,” Mrs. Hall said.

The department applied for the funds in October 2012. An announcement about the award was made Tuesday and the Jefferson County Board of Legislators voted to accept the funds during its final meeting of the year Tuesday afternoon.

According to state health indicators submitted with the department’s application, mortality rates for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are higher in Jefferson County than the state average. Hospitalizations for pneumonia/flu for adults 65 and older are also higher in Jefferson County than the state average.

According to the state’s data, gathered through a random telephone survey, 70 percent of adults in Jefferson County are overweight or obese.

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