From: Sue Nelson
I recommend Minnesota utilizes our budget surplus where it is critically needed — increasing health care staff so all Minnesotans and their families will benefit from medical care.
Our need for clinic and hospital staffing has reached a precarious level. When you consider the current number of Minnesota residents needing medical care, you must understand that what was once considered the normal number of patients receiving care in Minnesota has risen dramatically for a variety of reasons:
1. The number of baby boomers with multiple medical conditions is rising every day, and by 2030, one in five Minnesotans will be a senior.
2. The unanticipated COVID pandemic and its many variants are requiring acute and long-term care that will continue for years to come with no end in sight.
3. Flu season and the increased number of RSV cases have increased dramatically.
4. Death rates have decreased. Minnesota is ranked fourth in the nation with a life expectancy of 80-plus years.
5. Medical technology has increased awareness of additional and more complex medical conditions.
6. A generation of nurses are retiring, and as they go, not enough nurses are staying to train the generation taking their place.
An immediate need for additional health care providers (CNAs, LPNs, RNs, technicians, therapists, etc.) has reached a critical level.
Minnesota needs to seriously consider paying the tuition for anyone taking classes to become a health care provider — with the stipulation that for every year of education tuition they receive, they will work that consecutive number of years in Minnesota, or they will have to repay their tuition.
The incentive of paying all their educational expenses will encourage people to choose a profession guaranteeing them a much-needed job with benefits.
You will need to expand the number of students allowed to enter programs to get them graduated and into the workforce expeditiously. If we do not have enough educators, we should utilize current nurses with bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and Ph.D.s to increase the number of required teachers.
You must focus on the current dire need for direct patient/resident care by emphasizing on graduating CNAs, LPNs, and technical staff now and securing jobs in facilities for them as soon as possible to attend to direct patient needs (boots-on-the-ground/bodies-at-the-bedside).
You should consider allocating assistance from colleges, schools, insurance companies, medical facilities (hospitals, clinics, assisted living, nursing homes), pharmaceutical companies, and medical device companies to ensure this program is well-supported. But do it now; don't wait for it to be discussed, debated, or kicked around until our health care shortage intensifies.
This shortage can be fixed.