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December 10. 2013 1:10AM

Town's Visiting Nurse Service to get new lease on life in 2014

MOULTONBOROUGH — The Moultonborough Visiting Nurse Service will be discontinued as a town department at the end of the month when the town enters into a memorandum of understanding with the newly named Lakes Region Visiting Nurse Association.

Under the agreement, the town would provide $48,000 a year toward MVNS Executive Director Debra Peaslee's salary, and an additional $18,000 per year to offset costs of service to clients unable to pay. The Moultonborough VNS serves 110 different clients per year.

Moultonborough Town Administrator Carter Terenzini said the town was one of only two communities in the state with its own visiting nurse service — the other is Berlin.

The town's select board and MVNS staff have been exploring operating options since last April, when Peaslee met with the board to discuss the challenges facing the VNS — a declining census count, difficulty recruiting and retaining staff, increased regulations in the health care industry and increased competition from other providers.

Terenzini said it became clear to him and others that it was not feasible to continue the VNS as a municipal-operated service.

"The playing field changed dramatically," he said.

Terenzini said Rae Marie Davis, who now serves as the town's director of human services, established Moultonborough VNS after identifying the need in the community for home health care visitation and services. Over the years, the Moultonborough VNS grew and last year posted an annual budget of $421,000 with $180,000 in revenue. Terenzini said the transition will save the town approximately $225,000 a year once fully phased in.

He said the board reviewed eight agencies in the area and ultimately selected (Visiting Nurses of Meredith and Center Harbor) as the one that most closely paralleled the culture and philosophy of the MVNS. The Select Board voted unanimously in favor of the memorandum of understanding in November.

Under the new agreement with Lakes Region Visiting Nurse Association, which has just changed its name from the Visiting Nurses of Meredith and Center Harbor, two key staff members, including Peaslee and R.N. Jeri King, will assume full-time positions with the Lakes Region VNA, with the town of Moultonborough covering the cost of Peaslee's new salary as clinical director.

Lakes Region Visiting Nurse Association Executive Director Cheryl Gonzalo said the organization's new name more adequately reflects the service area that includes Moultonborough, Sandwich, Meredith, Center Harbor, Gilford and Laconia.

She said clients in Moultonborough would have the choice of retaining their nurse or provider.

"We want everyone to know we're still the same and offer that small-town feel," she said.

The LRVNA logged 8,000 visitations last year and regularly services between 50 to 60 clients at any given time.

The town's Select Board will host a open house and public welcome and thank-you reception for key members of the LRVNA and MVNS on Thursday, Dec. 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Moultonborough Town Hall.


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