Board says ‘no’ to paying $160K to place autistic teen

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Mower County board said no to a family seeking help to stabilize the life of their autistic child.

Following a recommendation from Human Services leaders, The county board voted 4-1 to turn down a request to place the teenage boy at the Chileda Institute Inc. in La Crosse, Wis., where they believed he would benefit from the trained professionals there.

Because Chileda is out of state, the county would have had to fund the $160,000 a year, according to Human Services Director Julie Stevermer — almost a 10th of her Out of Home Placement budget.

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Commissioner Polly Glynn, who voted against the motion to deny the family’s request, said she was torn over the vote.

“I am torn between a moral responsibility and a fiscal responsibility; … morally, this child needs help,” Glynn said.

At the same time, Glynn estimated the $160,000 price tag equaled the cost of placing 14 children in the state of Minnesota.

“That’s 14 kids we couldn’t help,” she said. “In that portion of it, we’re choosing one child’s needs above other children’s needs.”

The cost is higher out of state, especially if a facility isn’t licensed by a bordering state, because certain state reimbursements don’t apply.

Human Services Director Julie Stevermer said they’ll continue to explore services and options with the family.

Commissioner Mike Ankeny said the board has to follow the expertise of staff on situations like this.

“That’s their expertise,” he said. “We put our trust into them.”

Family members indicated they may appeal through the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Public Health addressing three cases of active tuberculosis

Mower County Public Health is addressing three cases of active tuberculosis in the county.

Active tuberculosis is contagious, so trained Public Health nurses have been tracking the patients’ progress, according to Community Health Director Lisa Kocer. People with tuberculosis are usually confined to their home for about two weeks and wear masks when they venture out, she said.

The number of cases of tuberculosis varies each year, but Kocer said it’s generally small in Mower County, noting there were about two cases last year.

Tuberculosis usually occurs in the lungs and can be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Patients may cough, lose weight and generally feel unwell, depending how far the disease has progressed.

Road construction not done yet

Though the calendar has ticked over to autumn, road construction isn’t done yet.

The county board approve a $353,000 bridge replacement on the State Line Road east of Highway 218 on the southern end of the county.

The project should be completed yet this year.