By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is losing home health care workers and nurses at an alarming rate — at a time when state officials say we are going to need them more than ever.

This is something lawmakers want to work on right away. The numbers are going in the wrong direction.

So many baby boomers getting old, there are not enough workers, especially nurses, to fill the gap.

The home health care crisis is nothing new for 46-year-old Scott Flynn, who lives with a brain injury in his parents’ Roseville home. They fill in the gaps of his 24-hour care when workers move on.

“And they don’t stay. The wages are so low that they don’t stay,” said Scott’s mother, Delores Flynn.

personal care attendants Personal Care Attendant Shortage Looms In Minnesota

Scott Flynn and his personal care attendant (credit: CBS)

State officials say Minnesota is losing personal care attendants and nurses faster than the industry is replacing them. A special commission is looking at ways to slow that down, but they are fighting low wages, no benefits and staff turnover.

“A lot of times you get young nurses that will start in home care to get their feet wet, get the lower wage, get a year or two in and boom, they’re gone to the hospitals because that’s where the money is and the [benefits] are,” said Stacey Vogele of the Home Care Workforce Shortage Group.

The home health care crisis gets worse the farther out it gets from the metro area, vexing state lawmakers.

“I think the question is, number one, how bad is it? And number two, where is it?” said Sen. Jerry Relph, (R) St. Cloud.

Scott Flynn turns 47 next month. His mother is 73. Unless lawmakers do something to change home health care wages, she says it won’t get fixed.

“The health care generally in this country, taking care of disabled and elderly people, it’s like it’s disappeared,” Flynn said.

As tight as the home care labor market is now, it is about to get worse.

State officials say personal care attendant jobs will grow faster than any other occupation in Minnesota during the next five years — but there won’t be anywhere near enough people to fill them.

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