According to an estimate that Minnesota lawmakers heard on Tuesday, it would cost $ 96 million to provide bonuses of $ 1,500 to 79,000 full-time employees in assisted living and nursing homes who worked hard in the past. stronger from the pandemic.
A nine-person task force heard the estimate as it decided on the allocation of the $ 250 million the legislature set aside for essential workers. The legislature has given very little guidance except that long-term healthcare workers need to be included in the mix.
These nursing home workers and operators stressed on Tuesday how difficult their jobs had become during the height of the pandemic.
Kari Thurlow, senior vice president of advocacy for LeadingAge MN, provided testimony and tax estimates to the legislative task force which has until next month to determine how much and to whom to give the bonuses.
Thurlow said the bonuses of $ 1,500 would go to 38,000 nursing home workers and 41,500 assisted-living workers and would be prorated for part-time employees. She said there were around 10,000 long-term care positions open after many workers left the field.
“It’s really frightening the workforce crisis we are experiencing today,” she said. “Put simply, the staff are mentally and physically exhausted, and yet, at the same time, they are preparing for the fourth wave, driven largely by the spread of the Delta variant. ”
State Senator Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, who worked on issues of the elderly during her tenure, seemed in favor of prioritizing long-term care workers. “It’s a goal,” she said.
The group – made up of three representatives, three senators and three commissioners – heard testimony from essential workers, including nurses, daycare workers, food service workers, janitors and orderlies, illustrating the challenge of distributing even a sum as large as a quarter of a billion dollars among so many people.
They will meet again on Thursday, hoping to make recommendations to the Legislature before a special legislative session in September.