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.
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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.