Home health care faces huge shortage of workers in Minnesota

Twenty-one years ago, Scott Semo suffered a massive brain hemorrhage that destroyed his ability to talk, eat on his own, and move around. 

Every weekday now, Nora Clark drives to the 50-year-old Semo’s Roseville home to care for him. As a personal care assistant, Clark cleans for him, cooks, does his laundry. She bathes him, dresses him, brushes his teeth. One of the more challenging parts of the 62-year-old Clark’s job comes when she must physically lift Semo from his wheelchair to his bed, the car or elsewhere.  

“Every transfer is a challenge,” Clark said. “He can’t walk. He can drop at any moment. His ankles are weak.” 

In the last two years, they ran into another challenge: finding enough home health care workers to both care for Semo and relieve Clark. The vast majority of patients like Semo use public insurance to pay for workers like Clark, and a low reimbursement rate from these insurance companies keeps their pay at around $14 to $16 per hour. 

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By Betty C. Giordano

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