Health Dept. gets wheel of a deal

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2005

JACKSON – A wheel of a deal.

Meal recipients of the Northampton County Home Delivered Meals program don’t need an explanation on the benefits of the services rendered to them through the Northampton County Health Department. They already know.

And before long, their meals will not only come packaged with love, but they’ll be delivered in style in the form of a new van.

According to Northampton County Health Director Sue Gay, whose request to purchase the vehicle was approved during the last Commissioners meeting, the Health Department was seeking a more economic and reliable means to continue their much-needed program over the long term.

&uot;The Home Delivered Meals Program transports 40 hot, nutritional meals per day to elderly, homebound residents to 10 sites within the county,&uot; Gay said.

The Health Department contracted services through the Roanoke-Amaranth Health Group, Inc to have the meals delivered until November 15 of last year when the contract was terminated.

In light of the terminated contract, Roanoke-Amaranth agreed to allow the Health Department to lease a 1987 van for $1per month, plus any repair expenses and insurance costs during its period of usage.

However, after replacing the battery and water pump and experiencing a loss of heat in the van since the November 15 termination date, the Health Department decided to consider the purchase of a new van to assist in its orchestration of the Home Delivered Meals program.

Gay presented Commissioners with two cost estimates for a 2005 Chevrolet cargo van, noting a $200 difference in cost and recommended the county approve purchase from the local dealer as opposed to Raleigh despite the higher ticket price.

&uot;Although the estimate we received from Raleigh was $200 less than the one we obtained locally, when you figure in the expenses associated with travel, gas, and time spent in transit, the cost is about the same,&uot; Gay said.

Commissioners agreed to her request.

Funding for the new van was covered by the $4,500 no longer invested in the contract with Roanoke-Amaranth Health Group in conjunction with $12,118.68 in funds redirected from excess unemployment insurance.

The cost of the van totaled $16,618.68.

&uot;This purchase will allow the Health Department to orchestrate the Home Delivered Meals program on our own,&uot; Gay said, noting Hampton Woods Board and Care as the facility responsible for preparing the food.

The program, which is coordinated by the Office of Aging through the Upper Coastal Plains Council on Government, is funded through a block grant in conjunction with funds from the local government, private donations, client contributions, the county and United Stated Department of Agriculture and serves approximately 36-39 meals each day, five days per week based on qualified need.

Gay expressed appreciation for the board’s support stating, &uot;The Commissioners are very tuned into meeting the needs of citizens and making sure seniors and frail elderly individuals are provided with at least one hot meal per day.&uot;

The Health Department began delivering meals to area residents in its new van January 7.