Health agreements will provide aid to thousands

Grants amounting to more than $850,000 will allow Cochise County’s health department to provide critical services to nearly 4,000 residents.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has renewed an agreement with Cochise Health & Social Services, in the amount of $583,700, for its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services. An additional $63,824 has been awarded for the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program.

Both grants, for one year, were approved by the Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting on September 10, where Prevention Director Judy Gilligan explained the importance of both initiatives.

“The WIC program is a supplemental nutrition program for income eligible women, who are pregnant or post-partum, infants, and children up to the age of five. WIC also provides families with nutrition education, dietetic counseling for high risk issues, and referrals to social services within the county,” she said. “The Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program provides counseling and support services that complement the WIC-provided breastfeeding education by allowing for additional, more in-depth education by a peer counselor.”

Both programs serve around 3,400 people across the county.

The Board also approved a contract between the South Eastern Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO) and the health department, in the amount of $215,000, for case management services for people aged 60 and older.

The program is provided to both care recipients and unpaid caregivers and includes in-home assessments, referrals for home delivered meals and other community resources, attendant care and respite.

Public Fiduciary and Area Agency on Aging Director Belvet Elshaug said the program helps elderly and disabled residents to remain in their homes longer, and to live more independently with the right support. The services are currently provided to 482 people.

She added the program also saves taxpayer money, as closure of the case management service would result in increased enrollment in the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS). Estimated costs for county assessments for people enrolling in ALTCS are $4,900 per person.