With the closing of North Central Home Care this week, the community of Fort Dodge may find itself without a crucial provider of nutritious meals to the elderly and homebound - at least temporarily.
For several years, North Central Home Care has been the agency which provides delivery of a daily lunch seven days a week to those who request it, but even after transferring many services to the Webster County Health Department, a permanent solution to keeping the meal service going is still in the planning process.
Elderbridge Agency on Aging, which helps oversee more than 90 congregate meal sites and 75 Meals on Wheels programs in a 29-county service area, has stepped in to help the program continue in the future. Elderbridge presently assists with meal sites at both Citizens Central and the Fort Dodge Housing Agency in Fort Dodge.
"We are working with our community partners to ensure we will be able to carry on Meals on Wheels In Fort Dodge," said Robert Ammann, healthy aging director for Elderbridge. "Our board is committed to supporting Meals on Wheels and other community partners have said they are willing to support it, but unfortunately, it won't be up and running immediately."
As a temporary solution, the Webster County Health Department can send a home care aide to the homes of those presently receiving Meals on Wheels to make sure they have an adequate meal or food in their homes.
'The Health Department does have a stop-gap measure in place but we hope we won't have to use it for long," said Ammann.
Ammann said North Central Home Care has offered its Meals on Wheels equipment to Elderbridge to be used for future providers.
"That will be a huge savings to us having their equipment,"he said.
Some meal recipients have been receiving their meals through Medicaid waivers, and they will continue to receive a daily meal through an alternative source.
"Medicaid recipients will be taken care of through other avenues at first," said Ammann. "But those who are not eligible for the waiver, we are concerned for them, we don't want them to fall through the cracks."
Congregate Meals and Meals on Wheels has been subcontracting with the Best Western Starlite Village Inn and Suites to provide food for the lunches. Elderbridge is presently taking bids for subcontracted meal providers. Anyone interested in providing meals to the program may contact Elderbridge at 955-5245.
"We have to bid out the meals," said Ammann. "We have put out a notice to see what kind of response we get. To get funding, they would have to follow our menus."