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When are we going to take our government back?

By July 24, 2023No Comments

WFAE’s Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins has been a regional favorite for years. They invited me back for another visit on June 28, 2023.  The topic was the increase in the number of complaints being filed against North Carolina’s nursing homes.

You can hear it yourself at:

When invited, I knew immediately I wanted to do the show because it gives me the opportunity to set the record straight.  Of course, I’m sitting next to a print of Picasso’s Don Quixote as I write this.

The rise in number of complaints is not good, but it is only a symptom of the problem. The problem is our national workforce emergency that our political leaders are not adequately addressing. If we were adequately staffed, there would be little cause for anyone to complain.

Nursing homes were already in a severe workforce crisis before Covid struck. There were already not enough direct care workers and reimbursement rates were inadequate to pay a competitive wage. Then since the start of Covid, NC nursing homes lost 13% of our workforce!

We had a good discussion and I felt I was able to frame the real problem, the workforce emergency. I got some of my point in, but didn’t get the opportunity to make them all.

We need to come to the table with solutions, not just lamentations. The nursing home profession has done that.  First and foremost, we need adequate government reimbursement, mostly Medicaid, because Medicaid is the largest payor for nursing home care. Reimbursement needs to be adequate to pay a competitive wage to CNAs, environmental services, dietary staff, and nurses. And competitive, we won’t hire the bottom of the barrel. Many people can’t pass the drug test and the criminal background test, and we don’t want them anyway. We need the best, those who want to love our residents!

There are already not near enough people in the workforce to meet the specific needs of nursing homes:  people who love our residents, and people to hire round the clock every day including weekends. The only answer is immigration. The USA needs a foreign guest worker program for nursing home workers today, and we need broader immigration reform tomorrow morning. Immigration reform is one of the most profound failures of our elected leaders.

When are we going to take our government back and address our problems?

Erin Kidd

Author Erin Kidd

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