VNA HQ 100208The borough-based Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey may feel the pinch.

For the second time in recent months, the Red Bank Council has contracted services to Monmouth County in an effort to cut costs.

The governing body last night approved a plan to consolidate its restaurant inspections, healthcare for shut-ins and other health-related services under a single contract with the Monmouth County Health Department.

Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels says the change will save Red Bank $90,000 a year.

The deal would impact the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey, which has its headquarters in town and now provides nursing services to the elderly and indigent under a contract that was to have cost the borough $33,000 this year. Under the change, the VNA would continue to provide those services, but under a contract negotiated by the county, Sickels says.

"These are desperate times, and we're looking to save money any way we can," he tells redbankgreen.

The move follows a deal struck in January under which the borough will buy road salt and other goods and services from the county public works department, which has greater pricing leverage, officials say.

That move also obviated the need for Red Bank to buy a structure to keep the salt dry, saving more than $100,000 in itself.

Sickels says that for the past six years or so, since the retirement of borough health officer Fred Richart, Red Bank has contracted for restaurant inspections and health-related property issues with the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission, which despite it's name is not a county government agency.

That contract was to have cost the borough $143,000 next year, he says. But the county health department, basing its charges on property valuations, quoted the borough a cost of $96,000 to provide services provided by both the MCRHC and the VNA, Sickels says.

He says that county health office Michael Meddis has assured the borough that there will be an "apples to apples" comparability of services and no drop-off in quality.

Because the MCRHC contract requires six months notice to terminate, that aspect of the deal with the county won't take effect until September, Sickels says.

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