CW: Amputation & Neglect:
Dennis Prothero gazed at the walls of his empty hospital room for hours. His legs were amputated. He was unsure if he could muster the courage to see how much of his legs remained.
Prothero finally pulled up the hospital sheets as night fell. His legs had been reduced to rounded stumps. They were amputated just below the knees, as he had feared.
Prothero was paralyzed after being hit by a drunken driver in 20004. He was in his wheelchair up to 24 hours a day after losing most of his crucial caregiving support last summer due to a state-wide homecare shortage in Minnesota. The frequent friction with the chair led to painful pressure sores on his feet.
According to disability advocates and home care providers, the scarcity of home care workers has reached a crisis level. Some people have been forced to go without care for weeks or even months, putting their health and independence at risk. Others have been unable to fill open shifts, making it difficult to receive regular assistance with basic tasks ranging from showering and dressing to being transferred from wheelchairs.
Prothero believed that having his legs amputated surgically and having a 12-day hospital stay would result in more assistance. Instead, he was without any additional support. He was discharged home to his apartment in Stillwater, MN, where the infection started.
Prothero primarily requires assistance in the morning and evening. Still, his routine was disrupted in July when the personal care assistant who helped him in the evenings and on weekends left for a higher-paying position. Shortly after, his other long-term caretaker, Julie Britton, 50, was forced to reduce her hours due to health issues. Prothero found himself stuck for long periods of the day and night, with no one to assist him with transfers.
Prothero, unfortunately, is not alone. A 76-year-old man from London, Ontario, says his PCA failed to arrive for three consecutive days, highlighting the dire need for more staff. George White, who has ALS, relies on PCAs from ParaMed Home Health Care for daily tasks like showering, feeding, toileting, and transfers.
John Zoller is having difficulty finding caregivers for his daughter Katie, 35. She receives funding through a Medicaid waiver in Georgia. People can earn more money working at Amazon and fast-food restaurants. Still, Zoller is thankful for the Medicaid waiver.
It is even worse for people who are still on the waiting list. Celeste Chippero’s 32-year-old son Peter who has Cerebral Palsy, has been on the waiting list for five years. Peter requires 24-hour-care, which is getting harder for his aging parents. At 63, Celeste can no longer assist Peter with bathing, which means her husband has to do it. They both worry about what will happen to their son when they die.
On July 1, the state added 513 additional waivers to the list. They suggested that another 513 residents with disabilities should be able to access those services. According to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, 31 people should receive waivers soon.
As a person with Cerebral Palsy, PCAs are essential for me to live in the community. My PCA helps me with activities of daily living, including showering, toileting, and dressing. He also brings me to appointments, the supermarket, and social events. Without support, I could end up living in a long-term care facility.
Home healthcare workers are crucial for the elderly and disabled people. Without enough support, people could end up hospitalized. Therefore, they are at risk of contracting other illnesses. Caring for people at home is more cost-effective as well, with the average cost of a nursing home being over $7,000 monthly.
Most importantly, home healthcare workers allow people to remain in their communities with friends and family. This is an international crisis, and it needs to be fixed. Care can’t wait because people’s lives depend on it.
Landergan, Katherine. “Georgia’s System for People with Disabilities Hits Crisis Mode.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CMG Media Corporation , 25 Aug. 2022, https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/georgias-system-for-people-with-disabilities-hits-crisis-mode/HGB2E43ILRHVHIALNYHXRQAZIE/.
Parker, Tim. “The Median Cost of a Nursing Home.” The Balance, The Balance, 25 Oct. 2021, https://www.thebalance.com/average-cost-of-a-nursing-home-4177589.
Rodriguez , Sofia. “Lack of Personal Support Workers Leaves London, Ont., Man Stuck in His Wheelchair for 3 Days | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 30 Oct. 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/psw-shortage-george-white-1.5781127.
Serres, Chris. “Stranded without Care, Minnesota Man Loses Limbs Because of Severe Staffing Shortage.” Star Tribune, Star Tribune Media Company, LLC, 5 Nov. 2022, https://www.startribune.com/stranded-without-care-minnesota-man-loses-limbs-because-of-severe-staffing-shortage/600222357/.