Home care program not keeping up with pandemic pay for nurses, family says

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Saturday, July 31, 2021
Home care program not keeping up with pandemic pay for nurses: Family
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Nurses are in hot demand and a Triangle family says they are suffering because of it. The working parents of a six-year-old with severe medical health issues fear they're going to lose their daughter's health nurse.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The competition for nurses is hot and a Triangle family says they are suffering because of it.

The working parents of a 6-year-old girl with Spina bifida, fluid on her brain and other health problems, say they can't keep an in-home nurse because they are being lured away by signing bonuses and higher pay at hospitals.

One of the agencies that provides that service known as Private Duty Nursing (PDN), claims the program was left out of the second round of additional pandemic funding for home health care that was given to other state programs.

The father of the girl, Kenydii Parker of Durham, told ABC11, "She needs additional care that we're searching for, for home, you know, to really take, ease off me and mom. We both work full-time jobs."

Kenneth Parker noted that both he and his wife must work since Kenydii is the youngest of seven kids.

In fact, Kenydii's mom was at work when she talked via video chat with Eyewitness News about their problem with holding onto nurses paid through the PDN program.

"Funding is the biggest issue right now. Hospitals are giving incentive pay. Hospitals are giving sign-on bonuses. People are looking at it like, they need more money," said Terry Parker.

The Parker's are currently working with BAYADA, a company that provides home health care under five state programs including the PDN program.

The company claims all five programs got an additional 5% in pandemic funding in March 2020.

The next month an additional 10% was given to four of the home health programs but not Private Duty Nursing, according to BAYADA.

"State officials should go back and be all private duty nurses, 10% raise, as well as they did the rest of everybody else because all private duty nurses deserve that as well," said Terry Parker.

The chair of the state house Health and Human Services appropriations committee is a nurse.

Representative Donna White says she's a strong supporter of home care and Private Duty Nursing and wrote in an email to ABC11, "The House leaders are working around the clock to address many areas related to workforce issues."

The chair of the same committee in the senate did not respond to repeated requests for clarification or comment.

The Parker's hope their daughter and the hundreds of other children and adults in the PDN program may soon be able to retain nurses again.

They'd like to see that additional funding to make pay for private duty nurses competitive added to the state budget before it comes to a vote.

"They need to open their eyes and see the bigger picture," said Kenneth Parker, "This decision, I mean, it affects a lot of a lot of people."

Terry Parker added, "Private duty nurses take a load off of us. We know that our daughter's getting taken care of adequately."

And many other families as well.