Research into the proposed geriatric nursing program for the City of West U. continues at a slow pace, as the Senior Board has decided they need more information before a plan is brought before council. Senior Board member John Neighbors told council at Monday night’s meeting that a proposal should be ready for council’s consideration in January.
“After a lot of discussion it was the consensus of the senior board we need to get more information and more background before making a recommendation to council,” said Neighbors, who added that the board was looking into clarification of the role the nurse would play, the cost to the city, and researching other cities that have a similar program.
Councilman Michael Talianchich expressed frustration at the further delay, and urged council to initiate a pilot program immediately.
“I really think we are taking this a little too seriously, the legalities,” said Talianchich. “I think we should start a pilot program for six months lets see what happens. Why is it such a big deal? It’s compassion issue.”
The concept involves having a certified nurse who will check on the welfare of at-risk seniors in the city. The idea has been discussed since last year, after a group from the Senior Board and the Good Neighbor Team went to an elderly resident’s home to do some housecleaning. The resident was found on the living room floor, in need of medical attention.
The proposal estimates the program to cost the city $15,000 annually. The nurse is estimated to work five hours weekly at $50 an hour. Maureen Beck made presentation to council, and offered her services as a geriatric nurse practitioner to fill the position. Additional costs would include a doctor providing oversight, a cost that has not been estimated. A doctor in the medical center has expressed interest in the program.
In making the presentation to council at the Nov. 10 meeting, Councilman Chuck Guffey said that if a resident was found in critical condition, Adult Protective Services could be asked to step in.
Ross suggested that council meet in closed executive session with City Attorney Alan Petrov to discuss legal issues associated with the program, such as the city’s liability should something happen to a resident. Mayor Bob Kelly referenced a letter written to council by Dick Yehle, which was forwarded to members of the Senior Board.
In the letter, Yehle asks council to “please terminate the debate on the topic without taking any action.,” calling the program a misuse of public funds, ineffective and not affordable.
“Public money should not be spent to make up the short-fall of someone’s ill-advised personal choices,” wrote Yehle. “When ‘at risk’ people choose to live in circumstances that are dependant on the support of others, they should make the arrangements for family, neighbors, or caregivers to provide the necessary support. Failure to do so should not impose a burden on the public.”
He went on to say that “the argument that ‘it would be worthwhile if one life could be saved’ is of questionable merit. It would be pure chance if this program would directly save a life and there are hundreds of little things the City could do to potentially save ‘one life’ in other areas, yet we are not looking for those because they are too intrusive, too expensive or otherwise not justifiable.”