NEW BREMEN – When U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan visited Elmwood Assisted Living of New Bremen on Tuesday, Kathy Hunt told him reform is needed in immigration and unemployment policies to address the health care industry’s worker shortage.
“Our health care workers are tired,” Hunt, the CEO of Elmwood Centers, said. “They’re very tired and have worked so tirelessly, and we just don’t have enough people. We’re hearing that that’s the same situation with just about every workforce.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunt said, the health care industry only had one-quarter of the workers it will need to care for the aging Baby Boomers. The workforce was further strained by the pandemic as anyone close to retirement retired and immunocompromised workers left the industry, she said.
“I am incredibly proud of all our health care heroes not just at this facility but all across the country,” Hunt said. “In my career, I’ve been in health care since I was 12 years old – I started when I was 12 as a nurse aide way back in the day – and never have we had such a challenge to meet with taking care of people.”
To address the critical shortage of workers, Hunt said she told Jordan the federal government should seek reform in immigration and unemployment.
“We wanted to go over how we’re struggling with staffing and talking about is there a way to simplify the immigration policy in order to bring in health care workers to the country,” Hunt said.
Hunt would like to see the government simplify the green card process, making it easier for foreign workers to gain legal status to live and work in the United States. Currently it’s very expensive and time consuming to sponsor a worker for a green card, she said, stating it can take a year or two to bring in one registered nurse.
The Elmwood CEO also thinks additional unemployment funding given to Americans during the pandemic has discouraged people from re-entering the workforce. She wants the government to focus on getting more Americans back to work in all fields, including health care.
Additionally, Hunt said she encouraged Jordan to ensure assisted living facilities are included in any targeted relief funds the federal government offers. She and her staff also told him about all the services Elmwood Centers provides including assisted living, nursing, home and community based care for adults with developmental disabilities and opioid inpatient withdrawal management.
Jordan, a Republican from Urbana, said he enjoyed visiting Elmwood Assisted Living of New Bremen.
“I always say that the founders in their wisdom wanted the House of Representatives to be the body closest to the people,” he said. “And when you’re a representative, it’s hard to represent folks if you don’t go out in your district and see what’s going on.”
Along with his visit to New Bremen, Jordan also made stops in Urbana, Fort Loramie and Minster on Tuesday.
“There was a time where it was tough to get into any facility so it’s great that we’re coming out of this, dealing with this virus and getting back to normal, which is what I’m all for,” the representative said.
Elmwood is actively hiring at all of its facilities, and Hunt encouraged students to consider a job in health care.
“What families can do is encourage their high schoolers and college students to give health care a try and encourage them to work,” she said. “If you’ve got a daughter that’s graduating this spring, why not go and help our seniors, you know, help them get to the dining room, help with their bathing, dressing, toileting needs. These are things that are very rewarding to help your fellow man, and it’s so rewarding in senior care. Our seniors have a lot to offer, and they have a lot to teach our young folks.”
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