Caregivers Rally for More State Funding for Senior Care

Updated: 05/02/2013 10:20 PM By: Stephen Tellier

Who will care for your parent or grandparent when they can no longer care for themselves?

That question was at the heart of a rally at the Capitol rotunda on Thursday, as dozens of caregivers demanded more money from the state, to prevent a gaping hole from opening up in Minnesota's health care system.
Hazel Boone may speak softly, but she can bring a crowd to its feet.
"We are counting on you. Thank you," Boone told the crowd gathered at the rally, which erupted with applause as she ended her remarks.
"It's emotional for me because I'm used to them being there," Boone said.
Her life depends on the men and women who work at her nursing home. But recently, some have had to abandon her bedside and the industry -- for bigger paychecks elsewhere.
"They have to leave what they love doing and go someplace else. It's about money," Boone said.
The state gives support to many facilities. But the amount has barely changed the past few years, and the current budget doesn't include an increase.
"We've got 115 Minnesota nursing homes that are in state financial crisis," one speaker told the crowd.
"It's been five years that we have not seen a raise," said Jean Kittelson, the nursing director at New Brighton Care Center.
A caregiver exodus could leave Minnesota without enough staff to support its seniors, in a state where the elderly population is rapidly rising.
"If everyone is leaving this type of line of work which we all love, who is going to provide for them?" Kittelson asked.
Their pitch to politicians was loud and clear -- they want a 5 percent increase in funding each of the next two years.
It's something Boone is begging for.
"Please help us. Please help us elderly have a quality of life," Boone said.
There are bipartisan bills that would increase funding pending in both the House and Senate.