(View Testimony of Martha Hegarty)Washington, DC - Martha Hegarty, owner of Country Care in Easton, KS, told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that a critical shortage of long-term caregivers threatens the quality of eldercare, and that changes in our nation's immigration laws are part of the solution.
"You have heard about the RN shortage, but I am here to be certain that you do not forget about the nursing paraprofessionals - those on the front lines of care giving," said Hegarty
."While the number of elderly in Kansas is exploding, the people who would provide that care are leaving in droves."Hegarty
pointed to a Cornell University study that found the United States will need 600,000 additional Certified Nurse Assistants over the next five years.
"To ignore this shortage is to ignore the fact that we need to be strengthening our skilled nursing infrastructure at a time when demand for care is expanding rapidly," said Hegarty
."We need a flexible immigration and visa program that is targeted specifically to meet the critical health care needs of our seniors before the coming demographic wave crashes over the system of care delivery."Hegarty
told the Senate panel of her
fruitless search for nursing help in Kansas and her
five-year wait to bring two nurses from the Philippines to work at her
In 1996, I petitioned the Immigration and Naturalization Service
for two nurses to help meet the needs of my patients," said Hegarty
."They arrived two months ago.So, obviously our immigration laws need major reform so that the process works for employers and the many patients whose care simply cannot wait.This will be the only way to meet the needs of caregivers as the baby boomers are increasingly in need of care and the supply of domestic caregivers dwindles."
"We as caregiver and policymaker alike must recognize that, by acting expeditiously, we have the power to ensure that today's major problem doesn't become tomorrow's unworkable crisis," said Hegarty
."It's now time to seize the moment and fix the problem for the benefit of every senior and soon-to-be-senior."
With 67 employees, Hegarty's Country Care
is the largest employer in Easton, a town with a total population of 200. The American Health Care Association
is a non-profit federation of affiliated associations representing 12,000 non-profit and for-profit assisted living, sub-acute care providers, developmentally disabled care providers and skilled nursing care providers.
...Testimony of Martha Hegarty, President, Country Care Nursing Facility, Easton, KS
My name is Martha Hegarty
, my friends call me Marty, and I hope you will too.I am extremely honored to appear before you to discuss the critical shortage of caregivers in long term care, and the important role reforming our nation's immigration must play in beginning to solve the problem.
Let me tell you about myself and the people in my care in Easton, KS.I own and operate a skilled nursing facility – called Country Care
– and my patients are very much like a family to me.My daughter is the administrator, and we have 63 dedicated caregivers with us.We care for 56 patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.