DOBSON — The Surry County Board of Commissioners has set a public hearing to gather public input on proposals received to take over the county’s home health operations.
The hearing is set to get under way shortly after 6 p.m., in the commissioner’s meeting room at the county government center in Dobson.
Following a request for proposals (RFP) issued to companies interested in taking over the county’s accounts, the county received six offers ranging from $2.5 million to $550,000.
The offers are as follows:
• United Home Care, Inc. — $2,500,000
• Gentiva — $2,350,000
• Care South Inc. — $1,200.000
• Well Care Inc. — $650,000
• Medical Services of America Inc. — $600,000
• LCH Inc — $550,000
The difference between the high and low offers totals $1.8 million, with an average price of $1,183,333, according to documents related to the sale.
While the prices offered for the county’s home health accounts vary widely, County Attorney Ed Woltz said shortly after the numbers were unveiled that individual companies’ current operations in the area could play a part in the disparity.
“A lot of that is a factor of how we geographically fit into the company’s overall plans,” he said. “Some (companies) already have operations across North Carolina and the South, and if they already have a presence in the region, we could be of value to them due to our location, or we could fill a gap in service for the company.”
Because of strict rules governing the issuance of RFP’s, Woltz said most of the offers are based on similar services.
“There are slightly different standards they all have, but basically the bids are for the purchase of our ongoing home health operations and running it,” he said. “The major difference is the money they’re willing to pay for it.”
The county is selling off their home health operations following years of running in the red, and County Manager Chris Knopf said there are now private companies in the area who are well-qualified to provide the services.
“Back in the 1960s when the county started providing those services, there wasn’t a private provider in the county,” he said. “Now there are many private-sector providers, and the county was losing money. It simply wasn’t paying for itself.”
Over the past several years, providing home health services in the county has cost taxpayers hundred of thousands of dollars. As of this past March, home health care services had cost the county more than $650,000, a 15.8-percent increase over last year’s deficit at the same time.
Following Monday’s hearing, the board of commissioners can vote to accept an offer, or it can table the matter for further consideration.
Knopf has said there is no concrete deadline for turning over operations to the selected company.
“Right now, we have no idea on the time frame before implementation,” he said. “We don’t know what kind of comments we’re going to receive from the public, and we’re going to proceed based on the offers on the table and what kind of comments come from this public meeting.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.