Sen. Gene Dornink: Holidays are a time to give thanks

Published 5:49 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

Friends and neighbors,

A few weeks ago, I hope you all had the chance to gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving holiday gave us all the opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in our lives while eating a great meal. Now Christmas is right around the corner. A tradition of family, faith, and good works, Christmas is the time to worship our Lord. My family gathers every year to celebrate, and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas!

As we celebrate this holiday season, we must give thanks to our long-term care facilities and their staff. The dedicated people who staff these homes care for our loved ones, often without praise, and are facing a major crisis. They are severely understaffed, and it is causing significant problems. Workers are having to put in double hours, and the homes are having to reduce occupancy.

In Hayfield, Field Crest Care Center and Assisted Living is facing all these issues. They have been deemed one of the Top Nursing Homes in the State of Minnesota with a 4-5 Star rating for several years. Now, their 45-bed facility is home to only 22 residents, and they have had to stop admitting new residents due to the labor shortage. Once one of the largest employers in the community, they are now looking at a potential closure. Operating at half capacity is simply not sustainable and their requests for State assistance have gone largely unanswered by the Walz administration. Unfortunately, this story is not uncommon.

Instead of using the emergency funds available to help facilities like Field Crest, Governor Walz ignored the problems facing our nursing homes and now those issues have become a crisis. There are state programs to assist with staffing shortages like this, but our local care facilities are still being denied. The State Crisis Staffing Center (Aladtec Support) was designed to help in emergency staffing situations but facilities like Field Crest have been denied because their residents do not have COVID-19. Their staffing crisis is largely the result of the pandemic but that is not considered. Essentially, they are being punished for keeping residents healthy and safe.

Recently, Gov. Walz proposed $50 million in federal funding and activated the Minnesota National Guard to form “response teams” to provide support to long-term care facilities. A short-sighted fix to a much larger issue plaguing our healthcare system. I stand ready to pass substantial and meaningful legislation to address this looming crisis by stabilizing the current workforce, recruiting additional staff, and helping those facilities, like Field Crest who are facing severe financial shortfalls.

We need to work together to support our long-term care homes. They take care of our loved ones and it’s time to support them. As always, I am here for you if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. Please feel free to reach out to me by email at Sen.Gene.Dornink@Senate.mn or call me at 651-296-5240.