Blair County to take over role formerly held by hospital

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County’s adult parole and probation office is making plans to take over responsibilities for management of community service assignments and related efforts previously coordinated by Altoona Hospital, now UPMC Altoona.

The Blair County Salary Board voted Monday to create a lead case manager position, at $28,000 annually plus benefits. The person hired for the job will handle tasks traditionally assigned to the hospital’s community services treatment coordinator.

Based on a job description, the responsibilities include a coordination of resources for community service, behavioral therapy initiatives, in addition to housing, transportation and job-search issues. Educational requirements include a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, chemical dependency, criminology or a related field.

Judge Elizabeth Doyle, who presented the salary board with the proposal, said that if the county hires a lead case manager to handle this work, rather than continuing to contract with the hospital, then the county can realize a savings.

Adult Parole and Probation Chief Tom Shea said the change also will also allow the lead case manager to take on a supervisory role in his office and could eventually lead to some new community service initiatives.

The county has had a good relationship with the hospital over the years, Doyle said, but bringing this work back to the county will yield advantages.

Commissioner Diane Meling asked if the county has a contract with UPMC Altoona. Shea said that he understood that commissioners, years ago, put out a bid for services and selected Altoona Hospital to handle the work, a practice that continued.

The hospital was paid for its work, Shea said, through collection of the $5 hourly fee assessed all defendants required to perform community service acts as part of their sentences.

With the hiring of a lead case manager, the revenue from that $5 hourly fee, Shea said, will flow into his department’s supervision fee fund. That fund covers a variety of parole and probation related expenses and based on Tuesday’s action, that fund will cover the salary of the lead case manager plus a supplement that applies to the county’s cost toward employee benefits.

Commissioner Terry Tomassetti offered the reminder that jobs funded with money in the supervision fee fund last as long as money is available. The general fund, Tomassetti said, cannot pay for these kind of expenses.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.