County Board praises results of health care coordinator

NEW ULM – The Brown County Board praised the South County Health Alliance/New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) health care coordinator position Tuesday while hearing a report on the first six months of the position.

The position’s funding is evenly split between NUMC and Alliance, with Brown County as a third non-funding partner. Its goal is reduce excessive utilization of the Emergency Department and hospital re-admissions while improving the overall health of patients. The position seeks to achieve these goals by removing barriers to health care for patients by providing contacts with primary care physicians or relevant community-based services. This position carries many similarities to some of the preventative and cost-saving measures that will be enacted with the Affordable Care Act.

The report on the last six months showed statistical results from the implementation of this position. For South County Health Alliance members, there was a 51 percent reduction in Emergency Department visits, an 81 percent reduction in hospital admissions and an average saving of $350 for each member in each month.

For all health plans, the position resulted in a 41 percent reduction in Emergency Department visits, a 49 percent reduction in hospital admissions and an average saving of $489 per member per month.

The commissioners expressed interest in the position’s impact. South County Health Alliance will re-evaluate whether it wants to continue funding the partnership at the ends of the next six months.

In other action the board:

Approved a Home and Community-Based Waiver Service Contract with Good Samaritan Society Home Care to improve service options and accessibility to Brown County clients. Good Samaritan is willing to provide service such as 24-hour monitoring system for individuals at risk of falling or forgetting to take medication, monitoring of vital stats like blood pressure or oxygen readings and provide equipment or trained individuals for miscellaneous other needs not already covered by other services.

Approved buying a new $63,167 Heartland Express bus under the 2013 MnDOT Cooperate Vehicle Procurement process. The county will be reimbursed $50,533, or 80 percent of the cost. The request was submitted because the Heartland has an increasing number of users, but the number of locations they need to drive to has not diminished. The bus is needed to handle traffic loads around Brown County on busy days.

Approved purchasing a 2013 Triton ATV trailer for the sheriff’s office from Miller Sellner Implement for $2,692.50 plus tax. Costs would be paid by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Off-Highway Vehicle grant funds.

In other business, the Board also noted that it will have an ongoing unbudgeted cost $10,106 per month for requirement of holding a Level 2 sex offender. The offender will be in court this week for proceedings to have him civilly committed. Brown County must hold him ahead of the hearing. The process has been extended recently after a previously unreported victim came forward to testify about sexual misconduct by the offender. After the sex offender is committed, the County must continue paying for the cost of treatment until the individual is deceased or released from the program. However, because Minnesota’s serious sex offender program has been accused of holding those committed indefinitely, Brown County may need to pay the “treatment” cost for the rest of offender’s life under state laws. The cost to the county will go down to approximately $5,000 a month.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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