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DHHS cuts curtail private nurses to some

Posted November 23, 2009
Updated November 24, 2009

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— The state Department of Health and Human Services has considered cutting or eliminating private nursing care for 48 of its most needy patients since June as part of an evaluation of services.

Private-duty nurses serve 440 patients statewide, including scores of infants and young children. Many of the patients are paralyzed, use ventilators and are fed through tubes.

Fifteen of those patients are getting fewer hours of nursing as part of the on-going review. Some of them have seen their health improve and their need for nursing decrease. In six cases, patients saw their service cut after a hearing or mediation.

Chloe Garris, private-duty nursing patient Home care advocates decry nursing cuts

State officials say cuts to the program are designed to improve effectiveness and not solely to save money.

"You know, we only have so many dollars to spend, and we owe it to the taxpayers and everyone else to spend the dollars wisely," DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler said.

The Association for Home and Hospice Care of North Carolina recently released a video to raise awareness and prevent cuts to the program. The group worries some patients may end up institutionalized if families can't get as much help from a private-duty nurse.

"We want to make sure that we are supporting those caregivers in our community and our state to be able to keep their loved ones at home," Kathy Smith said.

Kelli Crist said she couldn't handle the needs of her 20-month-old daughter, Chloe Garris, without help from private-duty nurses.

"They are life-savers. They are my angels," Crist said.

Chloe was born with a rare genetic defect known as Goldenhar Syndrome. Her ear, jaw and soft palate didn't develop completely, so she had a tracheotomy to help her breathe and uses a feeding tube to eat.

The toddler needs to be watched constantly.

"You definitely have to be very strong, and if you're not, you will break," Crist said. "You can't do that because it's not about you anymore. It's about the child."

A nurse helps care for Chloe 12 hours a day, usually overnight so Crist can sleep.

DHHS wanted to cut the hours for Chloe's nursing in half, Crist said, but officials agreed not to reduce the number of hours after discussing the case with Chloe's physician. Still, her case will come up for review again next month.


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  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Nov 24, 2009

    Same thing that can be expected when they control 1/5th of the economy.....Good luck if it passes!

  • nic Nov 24, 2009

    I agree that services should be reviewed monthly because many do abuse the system. If a family does not like the outcome of that review they do have recourse to appeal that decision which is what appeard to happen in this case. This is not DHHS fault. It is the legislatures who cut DHHS budget in half and there is just not enough money to go around. The budget cuts should have been equal all around but DHHS took one of the biggest hits.

  • ericeric99 Nov 24, 2009

    I actually think reviewing the cases on a monthly basis is a very good idea for us taxpayers. They did the right thing in the case above and listen to the little girls doctors so she can continue her care. There are too many times to count that once benefits are established, peoples circumstances change for the better, but there is no oversight or review, therefore a wasting of our tax dollars. I agree with the comments ( by hallmark) regarding the welfare parents who continue to have kids, new hair doo and nails paid by us and I think the parents should be made to work a job even for minimum wage if they are to receive any benefits. Once they have the kids they just keep saying I can’t find a job when they really haven’t tried . Monthly reviews are a must and the family above is not immune. Most DHHS workers are unqualified for the power they hold and attempt to tackle family matters that if they had to experience in their home on a everyday basis would fall completely apart. Ins

  • anti-Hans Nov 24, 2009

    Who cut the funds? The Gov't (state gov't but you get the point). The new Gov't healthcare plan is designed that no one gets denied coverage. Which will win out? Hmmmm, my guess is this as another poster stated - just the beginning.

  • redstarlean Nov 24, 2009

    Cutting for the most helpless.. Yea gotta love those xtain values southerners love to talk about

  • hallmark Nov 24, 2009

    Business as ususal. DHHS has misspent and wasted taxpayer money for numerous years without recourse. Now they want to cut services to those that need it the most. How about they stop providing free health care for the those who continue to have a bunch of kids knowing they can't feed them, afford housing for them or health care for them. You see them at the grocery store in their designer jeans, hair and nails done and all their kids are running around looking like a bunch of ragmuffins.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 24, 2009

    This is what happens when you are at the mercy of the Government and government budgets. It is always about the money; always. Multiply this by a few million times and you get a snapshot of what the so-called Health Care reform will be like.

  • Smiling Nov 23, 2009

    Yeah! Cut the cost where it's necessary, the disabled.....this makes no sense!! Cut Bevs salary then I will accept the other cuts!

  • INDLS Nov 23, 2009

    Unfortunately this appears to be just the beginning.