Fifteen Notebooks and Not the Right One 12|26|22

by Jane McClure It was very sad to see that Dennis Prothero died before Christmas. It also should be seen […]

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by Jane McClure

It was very sad to see that Dennis Prothero died before Christmas. It also should be seen as a call to action.

Prothero was featured in a Star Tribune story in November. He’d been left quadriplegic after a motor vehicle accident almost 20 years ago. Personal care attendant (PCA) assistance was his lifeline for many years. But with our ongoing staffing shortage, he spent days at a time in bed without help. Only his dog Summer kept him company.

As a result, the military veteran lost both of his legs.

“Dennis Prothero, a veteran, is often alone in his apartment in Stillwater, except for his dog, Summer. But she can’t help him get in and out of bed. ‘I didn’t have anybody at night Monday through Friday and then, nobody at all on the weekend,’ Prothero said in the interview.”

He had no one to help him into and out of bed, change clothes, get meals, get a shower … list a basic need and PCAs provide it.

But it’s hard work for low pay, and finding PCAs was so difficult for Prothero, he lacked basic care and lost his legs due to sores from sleeping in his wheelchair. His family could only help on a limited basis.

“If I’d been sleeping in bed, with the help of a PCA to get in and out of bed in the evenings, I wouldn’t have had this,” Prothero said.

Some PCA providers have stopped taking on new clients because they can’t find enough PCAs to help.

Dena Belisle, the president of the Minnesota First Provider Alliance, spoke to the Star Tribune about how some providers cannot take on new clients. The staff just isn’t there. “It’s so heartbreaking to keep saying no, but it’s no from everybody. It’s a hard job, so it sometimes burns people out,” she said.

Minnesota had more than 7,000 vacancies in the personal care industry at the end of 2021, according to the Star Tribune. The median wage was $14 an hour.

He lost his legs because of the PCA worker shortage, now Prothero has died. How many more people will be lose? Read the Star Tribune story here:

(Remember, if you have a library card and your library offers online services, you can read his story without a newspaper subscription.)

Read Prothero’s obituary here:

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  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself, & others from the COVID-19 virus."

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