” Dedicated to supplying services to clients enabling them to remain as independent as possible, at home, when undergoing stress and/or hardship due to illness, disability, injury or limitations due to age.”
When Gladys Chetney’s mother, Anna Lewis, became too disabled to be left at home alone during the day, Gladys began searching for reliable people to assist in her mother’s care. Gladys, a widow from Malone, New York, worked full time as Finance Director for the Malone Central School District and could not be at home with her mother during the day; however, her resolve to keep her mother out of nursing home care was strong and that resolve motivated Gladys to be instrumental in starting what was to become North County Home Services.
In addition to her regular job, Gladys was also Treasurer of the Tri County Council on the Aging for Franklin, Essex and Clinton Counties. William Clermont, who was the Executive Director of Alice Hyde Hospital was also a member of that Board and when Gladys mentioned the need for home health care to Mr. Clermont, he made her aware of an article he had read about starting an agency just for the purpose of home health care. Gladys then approached Stanley Rockhill of Franklin County and asked if he knew of any grants that would fund a home health care program. There was money available, but with many requirements. A training program had to be written, and because the State Health Department did not have such a program at that time, finding guidelines was a daunting task. Gladys solicited the help of Charlotte Franklin, a registered nurse whose husband, Dr. Martin Franklin, taught for the Malone Central School system. Charlotte Franklin developed the training program with some help from Gladys Chetney, who provided the rest of the information for the grant. Before anything further could be pursued, the New York State Health Department had to approve the training program. In 1980, the grant was approved with the title Home Care Registry which was actually an employment agency with training requirements. The aides were trained and assigned to people in need. They worked out their own pay schedule and hours and the agency ran that way for about a year until it was time to rewrite the grant. Because the program was technically a County program, the legislators insisted that it become insured which was a financial impossibility. The program continued on its own with Dorothy LeFleur working as Director with no salary.
Although all of the events leading up to the formation of North Country Home Services were described by Gladys Chetney as “like playing chess,” this new agency continued to thrive. Several residents of Franklin, Essex and Clinton Counties served on the Board with sincere dedication. The home office was set up in Saranac Lake, residence of the first Director, William Plumb with a satellite office in Malone. Dorothy LaFleur was appointed as the first Coordinator of the Malone Office.
In May of 1986, Rebecca Leahy was hired as the first Director of Patient Services. The New York State Department of Health passed legislation to require that aide agencies become licensed by the New York State Department of Health. Becky, a woman of tremendous energy, took up the job of applying for licensure. She had less than a year to write policies and procedures to prove that the agency was in compliance with the regulations required by the Department of Health. Becky drew on her twenty years of hospital clinical and college health experience which previously required her to work with State and governmental agencies and comply with their rules and regulations, and with that background, she was able to understand the process of policy and procedure development. Becky’s hard work was rewarded when The New York State Department of Health found NCHS to be fully compliant and granted the license after only one site visit.
The agency originally consisted of office sites in Malone and Saranac Lake, providing services privately as well as to Franklin County’s Medicaid-funded Personal Care Program. Soon contracts were established with the Franklin County Nursing Service which utilized Medicare funds to provide Home Health Care services, and a third office was opened in Tupper Lake.
In 1992, a fourth office was established in Ticonderoga to improve the access to home care in southern Essex County. The Agency became the provider of home care paraprofessionals throughout all of Essex County in 1993 and now is the sole provider of paraprofessional services in Essex County.
North Country Home Services bought a “cure cottage” in Saranac Lake to use as offices and the building was named The Gladys Chetney House in 1994 by decree of the State of New York in honor of the founding board member of NCHS.
The organization also bought the present office building on Finney Blvd. in Malone.
In 1994, a fifth office was established in Plattsburgh, expanding to provide services throughout all of Clinton County and is now the sole provider of paraprofessional services in Clinton County.
At one time, NCHS ran a facility for the elderly. Sageman House in Franklin County was purchased under a grant for Enriched Housing which also included some monies for the homeless. The building was renovated, but when the Will Rogers Complex was developed in Saranac Lake, the Sageman House facility eventually closed.
NCHS takes great pride in the quality of their training programs. NCHS provides a comprehensive New York State Department of Health certified Home Health Aide Training Program for individuals desiring to become certified Home Health Aides. NCHS also provides ongoing skills monthly training to allow Home Health Aides to maintain their certification. These aides provide compassionate, personal, and paraprofessional care. Our services include, but are not limited to, Personal Care, such as preparing meals, light housekeeping, laundry, shopping and errands. We also provide Skilled Care which includes nursing care, medication management and RN Case Management. We also provide Night Time Companion Care and most recently have added Chore Services, Companionship, and Community Support Workers to care for traumatic brain injured clients.
Because of the great pride that we take in the performance of our aides, an annual award is given each year to an aide from each of our offices who has demonstrated humanitarian giving and caring and excelled in some way. The award is called the Helen Law Award. This award was named for still another special mom who also served as a NCHS home health aide. When Becky Leahy’s mother retired from hospital work, she soon became restless. A widow who had raised six children, all of whom were well educated and out on their own, Helen felt the need to be useful in some way, so she took the Home Health Aide course and joined the staff at NCHS. She was very well liked by the nurses and very professional, never wanting special treatment, and in fact, most people did not know she was the mother of one of our executive officers, Becky Leahy. When she died suddenly, there was an outpouring of sympathy for her family and generous donations were made to NCHS in her memory. The donations from this memorial fund were used to establish the Helen Law Award for an outstanding aide in each of our offices each year.
Lifeline, a personal emergency response system providing 24 hour access to assistance was brought to the North Country for the first time in 1984 when NCHS sponsored the Lifeline System throughout an entire rural county for the first time in the county. This service initially was offered in conjunction with the Franklin County Fire Control dispatchers. The 24 hour monitoring and dispatching for Lifeline was fully incorporated into the agency in 1990 with dual-in-house locations, including computerized monitoring systems and related staff. In 1991, an addition was put on the administrative headquarters in Saranac Lake to house the Life Line equipment and monitoring site, which also provided training classroom space and additional administrative offices. The addition ultimately became home to the primary Lifeline monitoring site, which is currently referred to as Carenet.
The year 1994 marked an expansion and incorporation of 24 hour monitoring services to handle all Lifeline and home care communication and monitoring. The department expanded its monitoring/paging phone answering services to other human service agencies. The service had previously only been provided to North County Home Services’ in-house staff of over 325 homes health aides and their team of field coordinators and nurses throughout the region.
In 1999, a second Carenet monitoring site was established in our Tupper Lake office to provide additional service and to allow for access to additional staffing resources available in the Tupper Lake location. During the year, fully automated LP generators were installed to serve the monitoring sites and home care offices in Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake with back-up power supplies. Currently NCHS has over 900 Lifeline units installed in homes throughout the region.
North Country Home Services has five office locations and employes 39 full time administrative and nursing staff and approximately 250 Certified Home Health Aides. North Country Home Services serves over 900 clients daily over a 5000 square mile area.
North Country Home Services Lifeline Program was awarded a “Lifeline Academy Award” from Lifeline’s corporate headquarters in 2004. This prestigious award is presented to a handful of the thousands of Lifeline programs all over the United State and Canada. To be considered for this award, your program must be one of the top 10% in growth, marketing, service, consumer satisfaction, and commitment to continuing program development. NCHS Lifeline has gone on to win the Lifeline Academy Award in 2005, 2006 and most recently 2007.
Winning the Lifeline Academy for the last four years has truly shown the dedication NCHS has to Lifeline. In 2005, our own Tammy Lippacher won the highest award given at the Academy. With the support from NCHS, Tammy was awarded The Outstanding Leadership Award.
Phillips Lifeline has an Advisory Board where program managers and fourteen of their peers from across the United States are chosen to sit for a three year reign. These fifteen individuals have clearly demonstrated the highest levels of expertise and commitment in keeping people safely in their homes. Tammy Lippacher was chosen to serve on the 2006-2008 Board. Lifeline Corporation also provided North Country Homes Services with $250.00 to donate to a charity of our choice each year.
North Country Home Services’ award winning Music Therapy Program headed by our own Danny Klebes is a singularly unique approach to recreation and socialization that incorporates fun and the healing benefits of music to create a nurturing environment. Currently, this program is provided in various sites throughout Northern New York. Latest research provides irrefutable evidence regarding the effectiveness of music therapy’s ability to improve and maintain the overall well-being of those involved in the program. Participants in the program experience an enriched quality of life and are much less likely to need labor intensive attention and/or care.
In this our 25th year of service to the North Country, our Director is Rebecca Leahy and our Financial Director is Scott Tooker. Becky Leahy had been the Director of Patient Services for NCHS for many years and knew the programs and how they operated, so when Mr. Plumb left our agency, the choice to fill the position with Mrs. Leahy was a natural and easy decision. Mrs. Leahy is an indefatigable worker and completely dedicated to her work with NCHS. Scott Tooker was hired when NCHS developed the agency because of his computer skills and financial training. He continues to be an invaluable employee. Mrs. Leahy credits our dedicated staff in all five offices throughout the North Country with the success of the agency in fulfilling our mission.
North County Home Services has a very active and involved Board of Directors and each member brings valuable experience and expertise to the agency as well as dedication and commitment to the provision of home care services. Gladys Chetney, Betty Howard and Greg Langdon are founding board members who have served on the board for 25 years and continue to this day.
Gladys Chetney has been President of the NCHS Board of Directors for twenty-five years and during that time, she has become well known by several State agencies as a formidable advocate of Home Health Care and a formidable opponent of certain mandates and policies imposed upon NCHS by various governing agencies. Gladys has often met with government officials including senators, legislators and assemblymen in an effort to promote and support home care. Gladys has always given top priority to the safety and well being of our workers and our clients and her reputation in that regard is well known among those who legislate health care rules and regulations.
Gladys Chetney is the first person to give most of the credit for the formation and success of North County Home Services to the staff and the Board of Directors of NCHS. However, in retrospect, it is truly amazing that one strong minded and spirited woman from Malone, New York managed to start an agency which is now the seventh largest employer in Franklin County and that she did so because of her need to provide home health aides to take care of her mom.
Thank you, Gladys.