Nursing Shortage Puts Medically Fragile Children at Risk, Spurs Calls for Change

Mila, 2, with her mother, Analicia Brokloff of Sacramento. Brokloff has struggled to find home nursing care for her daughter, who has cerebral palsy. Photo courtesy of Analicia Brokloff.

Home & Community Health Care Allows Medically Fragile Kids in California to Stay-At-Home

Families in California have long struggled to get nursing care at home for medically fragile children. Even after doctors have deemed home care necessary to keep their kids healthy and safe, many Californians have been unable to secure enough nurses to fill their allocated hours.

The goal of the Medi-Cal Home and Community Based Services program, especially Private Duty Nursing (PDN) services, is to keep medically fragile Californians, particularly our children, in their homes — the setting that promotes their highest quality of life, allowing them the opportunity to be with their families and engage in their communities — and out of more expensive institutional settings.

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To make sure her 3-year-old daughter survived the night on her ventilator, Amber Suarez routinely stayed awake for four hours, then woke up her husband to watch Mia for another four hours as the girl dozed.

It had already been months since the family lost a nurse who assisted them during the day, which meant Suarez had been caring for her disabled daughter since the morning, juggling the needs of Mia and her twin sister, Savannah. She feeds her through a gastrostomy tube, administers breathing treatments, and suctions out fluid from the tube that helps her breathe.

These types of specialized medical treatments should only take place in the hospital, acute care facility, or in the home with a skilled private duty nurse.

Underfunding private duty nursing in the state not only puts these fragile patients at risk but also forces their parents and families to work to fill all the hours that the state doesn’t provide – ultimately removing parents from the workforce.

Keeping children at home and providing support for their parents is critical for California to fully recover from the pandemic and allow families to remain together.

Home & Community Health Care Services Benefits Our Families

Support for our service providers’ commitment to our families and California:

  • Years before the pandemic, the California Department of Health Care Services found in one study that 29% of home nursing hours authorized through a Medi-Cal program for children were not being filled. Since the onset of COVID-19, these hours have become increasingly harder to fill and made care that much harder on California families.
  • Please join the California Association for Health Services at Home and the California Children’s Hospital Association to support more Home-based health care services for California’s most vulnerable patients and their families.

Sign the letter below to show your support in ensuring California supports home and community-based health care services

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