Home Care Workers Needed in Rochester

Posted at: 05/09/2013 8:06 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A bill that would give home health care workers the right to unionize is now headed to the floor of both the house and the senate. The shortage of personal care providers is a statewide problem and many think this bill is the solution. We talked with a Rochester man who needs the home health care assistance everyday but only gets it a few days a week.

"I didn't have anybody here and they found me somewhere here in Rochester, I don't know where. But the temperature was 35 below wind chill and I ended up in the hospital for about a week," said Manuel Guajardo of Rochester.

For the past two years, Manuel Guajardo has needed assistance from a personal care assistant or PCA. But there's not enough to go around in the Rochester area.

"I'm supposed to get it five days a week, but I only get it two, two and a half days a week," said Guajardo.

On the days no one shows up, Manuel drives his electric wheelchair nearly three miles to his home health care agency called SEMCIL in order to show them the need for more PCA’s.

"They are working as hard as they can to get someone for me and it's not like they can just call somebody up and say come in and do this because they don't have anybody," said Guajardo.

"Sometimes we have to turn down taking on new clients because we don't have the staff available to provide the services," said Margo Stevermer, Manager of Global Home Health Care Inc.

Margo Stevermer works for Global Home Health Care Inc., another home health care agency in Rochester. She says it's hard to find workers because the job doesn't pay much and lacks benefits.

"When the state continuously cuts back on what the agencies are being reimbursed there's no way for us to be able to help these people rise up and also be able to afford life," said Stevermer.

The bill that's headed to the house and senate would allow PCA's to unionize. A union that would work to increase pay and benefits.

"I think it would probably make it a lot easier to be able to find people that would be willing to work and might not see as much turnover,” said Stevermer. 

Manuel Guarjardo says he doesn't care how they go about it, as long as the statewide PCA shortage gets resolved.

"I'm sure there's people worse off than me and that's what I want to raise awareness of that we need more PCA workers," said Guarjardo.