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Court receives Home Health and Hospice update

Harney County Home Health and Hospice Director Jodi McLean attended the Oct. 4 regular meeting of the Harney County Court to provide an update.

McLean and the court discussed a recent audit that was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS).

Harney County Judge Pete Runnels explained that this was Home Health and Hospice’s first state audit in seven years.

“In that time, we’ve gone through three directors, and so, obviously, things got missed,” Runnels said.

McLean noted that she was surprised by the audit, as she took over as director in May and has been getting used to the job.

Regarding the deficiencies, Runnels explained, “It’s paperwork. It’s process. It’s not so much the care.”

McLean commented that the auditor saw how caring the nurses are toward their patients, adding that Home Health and Hospice received glowing reviews from patients and their families.

McLean provided the court with copies of the DHS Statement of Deficiencies as well as the Plan of Correction, which was accepted by DHS. Fortunately, Home Health and Hospice was able to complete and correct all of the deficiencies that were found.

Most of the deficiencies were related to the Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) plan. McLean rewrote the plan and submitted it to the court for approval. The court agreed to approve the 2017 Hospice Quality Plan.

A QAPI committee was formed, and it consists of McLean, Matt Kohl (QAPI coordinator / registered nurse), Dianna Jaques (certified home health aide), and Dawna Sue Nyman (office manager).

The court received minutes from the committee’s first meeting, which was held Sept. 27.

The Harney County Home Health and Hospice Board was also formed, and members include Jeff Sceirine, Joyce Moser, Patti Schultz, Terri Williams, and chairman George Salhberg. The board will review policies and QAPI Performance Improvement Projects.

The court received minutes from the board’s first meeting, which was held Sept. 28.

Additionally, Home Health and Hospice began holding monthly staff meetings. McLean presented the court with the Sept. 14 minutes and explained that the monthly meetings are in addition to daily staff meetings.

McLean has been developing relationships with other entities in Harney County.

She met with Sceirine, Harney District Hospital Emergency Medical Services manager, to discuss patient care and Bev LaFollette of LaFollette’s Chapel to discuss funeral needs. She also met with DHS and Harney County Senior and Community Services Center staff to learn more about their programs.

McLean also reported that she:

• and the nursing staff have been attending training and conferences;

• updated contracts with Safeway, The Aspens, Ashley Manor, and other entities;

• is working on recredentialing with insurance companies;

• is organizing Home Health and Hospice policies;

• and staff organized medical supplies and created an inventory;

• is using casual nurses to reduce staff call time;

• created two spiritual assessment forms to assist the chaplain and developed two bereavement surveys;

• is working with nurses to ensure that they document whether patients’ family members are deemed safe to administer medication;

• is exploring options for a new computer system.

“It’s pretty amazing for you to have done all of this so quickly,” Harney County Commissioner Patty Dorroh said.

Runnels referred to Home Health and Hospice as, “Our shining star of the county.”

The annual Hospice Wine & Food Festival well be held Nov. 18, from 5:30-9 p.m. at the Burns Elks Lodge. This year’s theme is “Denim & Diamonds”.


Mike Simpson, Training and Employment Consortium special projects coordinator, attended the meeting via telephone to discuss the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps (OYCC) program.

With a mission of, “Empowering youth by providing outdoor work and stewardship experiences throughout Oregon,” OYCC was created by Oregon Legislature in 1987 to emulate the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s.

Dorroh said, “This is a mentoring program with work involved, and it’s great.”

Runnels added that, in addition to learning good work ethic, some youth continue on to careers with the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Simpson discussed the OYCC summer program and year-round Community Stewardship Corps (CSC) program.

Eleven youths participated in the summer program, and there are currently six youths in the CSC program.

This school year, the crew has been working on aspen restoration, seeding, and maintaining guzzlers for cattle and wildlife.

The CSC program targets youth who are at-risk, economically challenged, and have one or more barriers to employment.

Youth transitioning from the program will receive preemployment training, including assistance with interview skills, job applications, résumé writing, job search, career and labor market research, understanding employer expectations, and job retention. They will also receive assistance with scholarships and financial aid, budgeting, understanding landlord/tenant laws, and obtaining food-handling certifications. They’ll also have access to self-paced computer courses.

Simpson noted that Harney County’s program is being used as a model for establishing OYCC programs in Baker, Grant, and Malheur counties.

Per Simpson’s requests, the court agreed to authorize payment of $12,500 to OYCC.

Runnels noted that the funding is already in the county’s budget, and Dorroh stated that the requested amount hasn’t changed for 10 years.

“They really stretch it far,” she said regarding the funding. “I think it’s great that we support this.”


Harney County Commissioner Mark Owens provided an update on the  Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision.

The Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision is an ongoing effort to revise the land and resource management plans (forest plans) for the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, which are collectively referred to as the Blue Mountains National Forests. The plans will guide how the Forest Service manages approximately five million acres of public lands in Eastern Oregon and Washington.

“There were a lot of things put in the plan, mainly under grazing, that weren’t in the 2014 comment period,” Owens asserted. “We believe they violated the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] process.”

Owens added that all the impacted counties wrote a letter requesting that the plan be slowed until they can discuss their concerns. The Eastern Oregon Association of Counties met Oct. 3 to develop talking points.

An additional meeting was held Oct. 16 with U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Jim Peña, county commissioners, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden and his staff, and others to determine how the plan can move forward.


Runnels reported that he attended a joint meeting between the Southeast Area Commission on Transportation (SEACT) and Northeast Area Commission on Transportation (NEACT) Sept. 28 in Baker.

Topics of discussion included transportation planning, road projects, and the proposed Ontario/Nyssa inland port/hub with rail access.


In other business, the court:

• completed a jail inspection with Harney County Sheriff’s Office Jail Commander Lt. Brian Needham;

• continued its conversation concerning flooding in Harney County.

The county received permission from Department of State Lands, Army Corps of Engineers, and landowners to remove vegetation in the river between Highway 20 and Highway 78;

• agreed to allow Harney County employees to opt into Colonial Life insurance policies at their own cost;

• reviewed water use requests;

• learned from Dorroh that the Oregon Water Resources Department will hold a hearing Oct. 27 in Salem.

Topics of discussion will include a bond increase for water well constructors, a bond increase for landowner water well construction, increasing well construction permit application fees for landowners who are not licensed to construct wells, and clarification regarding when a landowner well construction permit is required;

• received an update from Dorroh regarding the Regional Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) meeting that she attended via phone.

“It was mostly information on the projects and the performance of the different CCOs,” Dorroh said, adding that they’re working on data management and encouraging preventative care;

• was addressed during the public comment period by Interim Fair Manager Rick Paul who reported that the 2017 Demolition Derby generated $5,800 in revenue;

• discussed the town hall meeting that Rep. Cliff Bentz will be holding at Crane Union High School Oct. 19 at 7 p.m.;

• held a rural work session in Riley Oct. 10 and a work session with the BLM Oct. 11.

The Frenchglen/Diamond rural work session will be held Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m.

The next regular meeting of the Harney County Court will be held Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. in Runnels’ office at the courthouse.

Samantha White

Samantha White was born and raised in Harney County, and she graduated from Burns High School in 2005. After high school, she attended the University of Oregon where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in magazine journalism. White was hired as a reporter for the Burns Times-Herald in September 2012.

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