Feb 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - Some big changes coming for healthcare according to the latest budget proposal, and Minnesota's Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson was in St. Cloud today to hear from area professionals on the subject.
Jesson and a panel of six area healthcare experts held a discussion at CentraCare Health Plaza on the most critical issues facing central Minnesota healthcare, and how the governor's new budget proposal addresses them.
Christine Bakken served on the panel, and is the administrator for St. Benedict's Senior Community and the Gorecki Care Center. Bakken sees a lot of turnover in her centers due to a lower pay rate for senior center nurses.
"If they get their RN degree, and can make $10 an hour more working for a hospital, they will," Bakken says. "And we're seeing this at our facilities."
Bakken says, in an area facing a booming population of senior citizens, she wants to see the large wage gap between long-term care nursing jobs and other nursing positions close.
"You have to have people with the right committment, and when you have constant turnover, it's really hard to get that continuity," Bakken says. "Your staff needs to know the resident, and know what they need, even before they say it. You can't get that if they're always changing."
Bakken adds, by the year 2020, central Minnesota will have a higher population of senior citizens than school-age children, and the baby boomers are not far behind.
Commissioner Jesson says there are measures in place within the governor's proposal to elevate long-term care facilities, but she adds that a stronger unity between residential and clinic care is crucial in closing the nursing wage gap.
"One of the first things we need to do is work on integrating our long-term care system with the rest of our medical system," Jesson says. "There have been efforts to start that in central Minnesota. But we need better integration. We need nurse to work with our patients in both systems - so we have to address this wage gap."
The meeting's panelists also voiced ideas related to adding more mental health services, promoting preventive care, loan forgiveness for lower-paid family practitioners, incentivizing more medical professionals to practice in rural communities and making access to all medical services faster.
The governor's budget projects 300,000 more Minnesotans will be insured within a year and half.