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Reader's View: Let’s not leave Minnesota seniors behind

The workforce crisis can only be solved with a permanent investment from the state of Minnesota.

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For years, the state’s system of long-term care has faced a looming crisis — and, after another legislative session ended without critical funding and policy reforms, the crisis is here.

While many professions face staffing shortages, the long-term-care area is unique, as rates for care are set by the state Legislature. Unfortunately, year after year, funding requests have gone unanswered and Minnesota is now facing the collapse of its senior-care system.

Leaders in long-term care here in the Northland are seeing this firsthand. We continue to provide the highest quality care at Ecumen Lakeshore, yet we know many more seniors in our communities are in need of our help and support.

A staggering 78% of Minnesota’s nursing homes are limiting admissions due to insufficient staff to meet resident needs. Severe shortages in senior care have created waitlists and delays and have forced seniors to live away from their families. Most alarming are the closures of nursing homes and assisted-living communities across the state.

There are currently 23,000 positions open in the state’s senior-care system. With no way to raise wages, long-term care facilities remain at a competitive disadvantage.

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The workforce crisis can only be solved with a permanent investment from the state of Minnesota. We must act now.

As Minnesota seniors and their caregivers wait for the next session to resume, we are committed to being a strong voice for them. We urge our legislators to learn from the inaction of last session and to take steps to ensure that care for our older adults is available now — and in the future.

Blaine Gamst

Duluth

The writer is executive director of Ecumen Lakeshore on London Road in Duluth.

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