• Sat. May 14th, 2022

Home care agencies seek more funding to support staff

ByJulie J. Helfer

May 10, 2022

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
[email protected]

Nurses are often recognized as the backbone of hospitals. They spend more time with patients than physicians, and they ultimately have the power to advocate for their patients to ensure they receive the highest level of care.

Friday kicked off National Nurses Week, a time to celebrate the vital role frontline workers play in our healthcare system.

Although the percentage of black registered nurses has increased since 2017, they continue to lag behind their white counterparts with 6.2 percent of RNs identifying as black or African American compared to more than 80 percent identifying as white.

Given the historical racism seen in the medical system, black patients experience hesitation, reluctance and fear in seeking treatment. Increasing the number of black nurses and other black health professionals can be key to building trust with black communities.

Charronne Jones, a native of Maryland, is CEO and owner of Aamira Home Care in Annapolis, Maryland. After working in the healthcare industry for more than 30 years, she said it can be hugely beneficial for patients to have nurses who look like them.

“When you have someone who looks like you, that person identifies with you and really cares about what happens to you,” Jones said. “They don’t have preconceptions about who you are and they just want to take care of you.”

Jones comes from a family of nurses and despite her best efforts to avoid the profession, science has always come easy to her.

She began her nursing career in high school at what was then North Arundel Vocational Technical School, and upon graduation became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). After graduating from college at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Jones became a registered nurse (RN).

During her studies, Jones’ instructors focused heavily on total patient care, a nursing model where a nurse attends to all the needs of a patient or group of patients during her shift.

This led her to develop an interest in home care, but she wanted her agency to offer more than medical services.

“Aamira Home Care is more of a concierge agency where not only do we provide personal care and do private nursing, we will also help you find durable medical equipment and find someone who can build a ramp on your house and make other environmental adaptations.” says Jones. “For someone who wants to live at home independently, we’re doing everything we can to help meet those needs, so if that’s their desire, we want to make that transition safe.”

The agency also helps connect patients struggling with depression and other mental illnesses to find psychiatric care and offers resources for patients seeking pet care or grocery shopping services.

When the pandemic hit, home care agencies had to cope significant labor challenges, including staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing shortages and barriers to accessing disaster relief.

Johnson said that although she retained the majority of her staff during the pandemic, they were forced into patients’ homes without the proper PPE, and federal reimbursements received by Aamira Home Care were not sufficient to provide the required salaries, since its staff risked their lives. .

Jones hopes lawmakers will soon address funding issues for home care agencies.

“Eventually, even though my staff really, really care, they still have to live,” Johnson said. “We’ve had huge inflation for the past two years, they still have to live and we’re not able to keep their pay rate up with inflation.”

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