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Letter: Thanks to Rep. Jay McNamar for support of nursing homes

There was rarely a time in the last 20 years when I didn’t have a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle in one of the many nursing homes in West Central Minnesota. My mom received care at both the Barrett Care Center and West Wind Village in Morris. My dad also spent his last weeks recovering from a stroke at West Wind Village. He passed away there, a year ago this month. My mother-in-law is there currently recovering from a hip replacement.

During their time at these facilities, they received the best care possible from excellent professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of aging residents in our area who need extra care. The nursing home staff gave my family members and I peace of mind when we could no longer provide care for my parents in their own home. I will forever be grateful to each and every one of the people who helped in any small way to help provide them comfort. I know a great number of the staff at these facilities now, not just because they’ve become part of our family, but because they are my neighbors, old classmates, and now I recognize many of them as having gone to high school or college with my children.

I know that our community values these people, because they help care for our most treasured loved ones. That’s why I was so pleased to see that after many years of cuts and freezes, our state legislature finally passed a pay raise for these individuals last year. Starting Sept. 1, 2013 nursing home providers got a 5 percent rate increase, of which 3.75 percent goes directly to employee compensation. That’s the first raise in four years.

The legislature also directed the Department of Health and Human Services to develop new guidelines to enable more seniors to receive Medical Assistance (MA) without having to be admitted to a nursing home facility. This will help more seniors stay in their homes for longer, and we know that this leads to a reduced burden put on families, facilities and our state’s taxpayers.

I know that Rep. Jay McNamar has made this one of his priority issues in St. Paul, and this year he's already work with nursing home professionals and residents to improve funding and quality. He knows well what the value of quality nursing homes mean to our communities because he has family members being cared for by some of the same staff that cared for my mom. I want to thank him for his vote and for fighting for nursing home residents and staff, and highlighting these issues to his colleagues in St. Paul. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed!