State faces shortage of home health care nurses

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Families hope to take their newborn babies home and healthy, but sometimes things don't go as planned.

That was the case for one Indiana family whose son was born at 25 weeks. But what they found when they were finally able to take their baby home was a statewide problem, a shortage of home health care nurses.

"It's a really tough thing to be in, it's a really life altering situation," Isabelle Kaboski said.

Her son, Matthew, spent 8 months in hospitals and underwent a number of surgeries. When he was ready to come home, his parents said they struggled to find home care nurses to help with the constant care their little one needs.

"We contacted 32 different agencies in the state for nursing. I made a flyer," Kaboski said.

The family found one that visits two days a week but would still like more help. They're not alone in their struggle.

"An agency that's a member of ours has received several referrals from Riley Hospital a week that they can't staff and so these kids are left in the NICU," said Evan Reinhardt, executive director of the Indiana Association for Home and Hospice Care.

Reinhardt said the state is facing a shortage of home health care nurses, while the demand keeps increasing with an aging population.

"It's severe enough that I think within the next 2-3 years you're gonna see some dire, dire needs for nursing that are gonna go unfulfilled," he said.

Reinhardt said it boils down to workforce issues and pay. It's one reason that drove Matthew's father, Tom Kaboski, to the the Statehouse Wednesday to help raise awareness.

"What we need is more focus on these home healthcare providers and getting it into the hands of the nurses," he said.

There is a bill making its way through the state house addressing medicaid reimbursement for home and community based service programs.

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