Enfield creates trust fund for community nurse program

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/7/2023 10:11:25 PM
Modified: 6/7/2023 10:11:26 PM

ENFIELD — The Enfield Selectboard gave its tentative approval to a community nurse pilot program by voting unanimously Monday night to establish a “Community Nursing Trust Fund.”

The fund will give the Enfield Community Nursing Project Steering Committee a place to put money it raises to contract with Lebanon to provide 10 hours of community nursing each week to Enfield residents.

If the group raises enough money for the first year of the program — roughly $30,000 — Lebanon’s two nurses could start seeing Enfield residents in January 2024.

Prior to the Selectboard’s vote, residents, town officials and Lebanon’s two community nurses weighed in on the community nursing program. Some Selectboard members worried about the stress it could place on town employees.

“It is (indeed) a noble idea, but I worry it’s going to place more pressure upon on our own staffing,” Selectboard member John Kluge said.

Enfield Town Manager Ed Morris estimated he would spend about an hour a year reviewing the contract with Lebanon and that Emily Curtis, a member of the nurse steering committee who is also the public safety administrative coordinator for the Enfield Police Department, would help provide the committee with data about visits. The volunteer steering committee would report to the Selectboard about how the program is going.

While residents lauded the community nurse program as good one, their biggest concern was about taxpayers picking up the cost once the pilot program is over.

“My worry is it will become another responsibility for the town,” resident Jean Patten said.

Her husband, Steve, who spoke later in the hearing, worried the town was taking on too many responsibilities.

“I think the town already has more programs than they can manage,” he said.

But Leigh Davis, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, believes that residents could benefit from a community nurse program.

“I think services for the elderly are needed so much,” she said.

Before voting in favor of the trust fund, Selectboard member Erik Russell asked that the steering committee raise the money for a one-year contract. Morris said the Selectboard will review the contract with Lebanon before he signs it.

Russell asked that the residents be given the opportunity to weigh in about the community nurse program during the 2025 Town Meeting, roughly 14 months into the pilot program.

“To me this is a big change in town government, and it’s worth taking to Town Meeting as a warrant article,” Russell said.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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