Editor’s note: This letter was written to Gov. Mark Dayton prior to the court decision on what are and are not considered “essential services” during the state shutdown. If you have questions, please contact your personal care attendant (PCA), transportation, social services or other service providers for details. The shutdown situation is very fluid and changes day to day. Some providers only have funding to operate for a few weeks, even if they have been able to stay open past July 1.
To the editor:
I am writing this letter to tell you how people like me think. I have special needs and I am going to be affected by the government shutdown. I do get a lot of services, especially PCA care. I understand if they shut down everything, especially PCA companies, you will end up paying a lot more if you have to put everyone in a group home or nursing home. The nursing homes do not have enough beds or staff. (Editors’ note: Despite initial fears, PCA services will continue as essential services.)
It will cost a lot more if we’re not in our own homes. PCAs typically do not make even a middle-class income, and their job is essential to a lot of people. Putting them out of work will mean they will need to find other jobs, or go on unemployment and we won’t have our PCAs anymore.
Courage Center is a big part of the government shutdown. Courage Center could be closed because their services will not be covered if the shutdown became a long-term issue. They are worried their services will not be paid. Also all of state-funded transportation may not be paid if a shutdown continues.
People need the transportation to go to their doctors because the appointments are important. These things all affect our health. You can’t mess with that. People will not like it if everything is shut down. We will have to think up how we can get medical care without any money. And that will cost us all more, and some may go without medical care. You don’t want to see that.
I know the Disability Linkage Line is being shut down, and that is not good either. A lot of people who are poor do not have access to the internet or do not know how to use it, and they rely on getting information from the Linkage Line to be able to get to food shelves and get emergency medical care. We need this service to stay open to help us to be independent.
We need the social workers to be in our lives so we can live. The social workers have been helping us to get more independence.
It has always been a dream of mine to live independently and Lifeworks and Courage St Croix has helped me fulfill that dream and raise my self-esteem, and to find out who I really am. I have yet to decide what my next goal will be, but with my determination and motivation I WILL achieve that goal. I hope this letter will help you understand how important it is that you reach a conclusion about the budget soon before too many lives are affected unnecessarily.
Rachel Swanson, Stillwater
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To the editor:
I am writing to tell you about how one of our employees, a personal care assistant (PCA), has dramatically saved the State of Minnesota money. We need positive stories about people who work as PCAs and many of the PCAs are quiet, unsung heroes.
On April 29, 2011, at approximately 2:30 p.m., T. C. the, PCA, was with her regularly assigned Client, L.T. She noticed that he was mumbling his words and drooling. The back of his neck was abnormally red and his left arm appeared to be unresponsive.
Please note that L.T.’s disabilities sometimes elicit some of these behaviors.) She saw a significant difference in him from the usual. Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke, she called 911. L.T. was taken to nearby Regions Hospital Emergency Room. Yes, he was having an ischemic stroke.
I am pleased to tell you that T. C.’s quick actions prevented L.T. from sustaining a greater increase in his physical dependencies. On Monday afternoon May 2, 2011, L.T. was released from Regions Hospital as he had returned to his “baseline.” By May 23, L.T. was given permission by his doctor to return to Accessibility Inc., his place of work. L.T. is very happy that he did not have to spend time in the nursing home for rehabilitation!
Please consider the possibilities if T. C. had not been there, if she had not recognized the symptoms of stroke, or if she had not taken immediate action. Strokes can be incredibly devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. The estimated financial cost of strokes in the United States per year is at $43 billion. The estimated costs for direct medical care and therapy are at $28 billion per year. The Stroke Center at the University Hospital, Newark, New Jersey, reports that the average cost of care for a patient up to 90 days after the stroke is approximately $15,000. For 10% of those patients who experience a severe stroke, the cost of care can average $35,000 in the first 90 days.* T. C. and L.T. have helped to keep down those averages.
It is my position that T. C. did prevent increased health care costs for L.T. She prevented a lengthy hospitalization, a nursing home stay, rehabilitation, and increased personal care assistance hours. These are the increased care costs that the Minnesota Department of Human Services normally would have incurred, if not for a fast thinking PCA. Frankly, if she had not been there, L.T. may have sustained a far greater disability, or perhaps died.
Thank you for considering how PCAs and the important services they provide do make a positive difference for people with disabilities. The Personal Care Assistance program is a cost-effective and humane way to provide care for many Minnesotans by preventing costly alternatives such as institutionalization in nursing homes and State hospitals.
Elin N. Ohlsson
C.E.O./President, Care Planners
*Stroke Statistics: www.TheUniversityHospital.com/healthlink