Give home health nurses fair pay/benefits via Medi-CAL
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There is a large discrepancy in the pay of home-health nurses funded through Medi-CAL versus the average nurse at your local hospital, and this is understandable. First, hospitals do pay nurses more because it is a higher stress and higher patient volume environment than the home health situation. Second, the nurse rate (RN versus LVN versus CVN versus NP or other rate) varies greatly according to amount of education and training. That is to be expected. However, home health nurses under Medi-CAL have not received a pay raise since 1990, and this is causing a shortage in the supply of Medi-CAL home-health nurses. This is damaging to the patient and his or her family members as it causes them to bear medical costs that the state is supposedly covering, or has promised to cover. My son who receives Medi-CAL funded home health nursing care due to his extreme disability (anterior horn cell disease/axonal neuropathy) is now currently not able to receive even HALF of his home health nursing hours. As per the state, my son is supposed to receive 22 hours per day, 7 days a week of nursing care. We have one nurse left who can work for 8 hours per day (Monday through Friday) and one weekend nurse who works about 6-7 hours Saturday and then again on Sunday. My son is on a ventilator and fed via g-tube and has multiple neuromuscular issues. He is mentally at the appropriate stage of a typical 4 year old but has essentially a polio-like illness similar to spinal muscular atrophy. He cannot walk or sit up. He cannot feed himself, bathe himself. He can speak, around his trach and ventilator, although one of his vocal cords is paralyzed. My day to day activities as his mom are 100% taking care of his needs, scheduling and driving him to the many doctors appointments and therapies he receives, arranging the tests to be run on him and supplies to be ordered. I have spent the last 3 years of my life learning about everything to do with medical insurance coverage, medical research for very specific and rare disorders, and learning to be a nurse for Julian, when we do not have one. I have no time for anything else, and this is difficult on my 2 other young children (1 year old girl and 6 year old boy). It is financially difficult to my husband and I, as we must subsidize our 4 year olds care by hiring nanny care for our other two children when we do not have nursing. I cannot have a job. Nursing without pay is my job. I live off of my husband's income alone. Before my son was born, I was an engineer. Currently I cannot make time for even a part time minimum wage job, because of the time that this consumes in my life. I want my son Julian to live with me as long as he is able to, but unless Medi-CAL pays our home health nurses a fair wage, I and other families in my situation will spend all of our last savings attempting to keep our children at home and then have to (against all of our wishes) put them into a specialized care facility. If you do not think there is a shortage of home health nurses, contact your local nursing agencies that provide home health nursing (Maxim, Premier, etc) and ask them about it, and ask the patients that are to receive home health care. Call the state social services department of health care services and ask them what the current home health LVN pay rate is. It is $24.42 per hour. If the nurse works for a nursing company to manage and oversee their work (as most do)--that company needs to take out a few dollars per hour for overhead, training, and extra staff, which leaves these LVNs with $18 per hour. In California, that is a hard wage to survive on, especially if it has not been raised in over 16 years to keep up with inflation. These nursing personnel are are skilled workers with training in respiratory therapy and life saving measures.
PLEASE sign my petition to Governor Brown to increase Medi_CAL pay to home health nurses so we can keep our much loved 4 year old son at home!
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