ST. PAUL - On March 30, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) joined health care workers, long-term care administrators, senior citizens, and other lawmakers at a State Capitol rally urging the administration and legislative leadership to recognize the significant problems being faced by nursing homes and address them.
“Caring for the elderly and the disabled is not a partisan issue,” Torkelson said. “I have been contacted by nursing home administrators in our district, and it is clear they are facing a genuine crisis. Now is the time to address it.”
As House committees begin to unveil their budget spending preferences for the next two years, Torkelson said nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not as high on the Democrat priority list as they should be.
Torkelson said Minnesota is in the midst of a “silver tsunami,” as more than 1.3 million residents in the state are aged 65 or older. As these residents age, their need for care grows. Unfortunately, the State of Minnesota is not keeping up with these needs.
Lawmakers were told at a recent committee hearing that in the month of October, 11,000 people were turned away from nursing homes, mainly due to lack of staff. The inability to fully staff our nursing homes then creates unwanted stress on our hospitals, as nearly 20% of their bed space is being taken up by people who should be recovering in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Torkelson said that the long-term care industry in Minnesota is currently operating with a worker shortage of 53,000, which is unsustainable.
“The proposed response from Democrats is inadequate,” Torkelson said. “As budgets are now being crafted, there is still time to shift priorities and do what is right for our senior citizens and the long-term care industry in this state. Our nursing homes are operating in crisis mode, and a rapid response from state government is necessary.”