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Commissioners today began the process to sell Home Health and Hospice of Halifax.

“This starts the process,” County Attorney Glynn Rollins told commissioners, who unanimously agreed to begin the steps to put the agency on the market. “It authorizes the county manager to engage a consultant and outside legal (representation).”

A public hearing on the matter will be held at the board’s June 3 meeting which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Halifax.

County Manager Tony Brown touched on the current situation with the agency in his budget message for the upcoming fiscal year. “Even with continued reductions the county made during the recession, we have been able to maintain our service levels to meet the needs of our citizens,” he said. “County departments continue to operate in a cost-effective manner. We have had staff reductions in both the health department over the years as well as in public utilities.”

He said, however, “One major change occurring with this budget is the discontinuance of our Home Health and Hospice of Halifax County. As our community has evolved over the years, so must we in the county government. When HHHH began well over 40 years ago, there were no others providing these services for our community. However over  the last 20 years there has been tremendous growth in outside organizations providing these services in a more competitive fashion without the required governmental burdens placed on county employees. HHHH will continue but will be transferred to another entity after completion of a competitive bid process. The staff and I are committed to evaluating our programs and will continue to pursue cost-saving measures to get the biggest bang for our tax dollars.”

County Health Director Bruce Robistow told commissioners the agency is considered a hospital facility and before selling, leasing or otherwise conveying it, the county has to follow certain procedures, beginning with adoption of a resolution declaring the intent to sell the agency.

According to the notice of today’s meeting, “Upon such declaration of intent to sell the agency, the board plans to issue a request for proposals related to the sale of its agency.”

Commissioner Rives Manning, who made the motion to approve the declaration to sell Home and Health and Hospice, said he had initially been opposed to selling off the agency. “I had the idea Home Health and Hospice and the health department could bring about change.”

Manning said he had hoped the agency could could be turned around to create a break-even situation.

Board Chairman Vernon Bryant said, “It has absolutely nothing to do with service and the good work they were doing.”

Home Health and Hospice offers medical care in a person's place of residence, where they feel more comfortable and secure. Home Health and Hospice of Halifax was created in 1969 as a service through the Halifax County Health Department.

Robistow said following the meeting there are those interested in buying the agency. “There will be a sale,” he said.

Once a sale is complete some employees with the agency will find other jobs. There will be a clause in the RFP saying all existing staff will be accepted by the purchasing company for a minimum of 12 months.