Michelle Lino-Corona: New Jersey Paraplegic’s Life Put on Hold When In-Home Nursing is not Available

NJ Blog Takeover: Michelle, who is the sister of TBI Victim Brandy Lino-Corona, writes about her sister’s life after becoming severely disabled – and how working with nurses through NJ’s Private Duty Nursing (PDN) program has helped her family define their new normal.

Brandy’s family and caregivers surround her bed in her Absecon, NJ home

For the victims of traumatic brain injuries, access to reliable home health care can be the deciding factor that keeps people either permanently institutionalized, or at home with their loving families. My 17-year-old sister, Brandy, suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from a severe car accident in September of 2018. Since then, the state of New Jersey has authorized 16 hours of specialized nursing care per day for Brandy. This care allows her to stay safe at home, and allows my father, mother, and I to lead proactive, fulfilling lives outside the home. However, Brandy rarely receives all of her authorized hours due to New Jersey’s inequitable Medicaid reimbursement rates for their state-funded Private Duty Nursing (PDN) program.

The severity of Brandy’s injuries left her incapable of moving, eating and even breathing on her own. Nurses that work with her need to be up-to-date on life-saving techniques such as tracheostomy care, respiratory treatments, suctioning, monitoring vital signs, feeding tube care and feedings and administering meditations. Additionally, Brandy must be readjusted every two hours in order to combat her risk of skin breakdown and bedsores. This regularly poses as an obstacle when nurses miss their scheduled shifts as this task requires two people due to her size.

Like so many medically-complicated residents of New Jersey, my sister is at risk of institutionalization and/or hospitalization without the proper nursing care she requires. With potential caregivers persuaded by competitive wages and less physically and mentally taxing employment, eligible patients’ access to qualified healthcare professionals diminishes. New Jersey’s legislators need to consider the plight of their most vulnerable constituents and make the decision to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates. An increase in New Jersey’s Medicaid reimbursement rates would provide a second lease on life for Brandy and those like her, as well as instill a sense of hope for their families whose only desire is to be able to continue to care for their loved one in their own home.

-Michelle Lino, Absecon

About the NJ Blog Takeover: For the next few weeks, Hearts for Home Care will be featuring posts authored by NJ families affected by the state’s shortage of in-home nurses and home health aides to showcase the need for increased funding for New Jersey’s Private Duty Nursing (PDN) and Personal Care Assistant (PCA) programs. For more information on how you can get involved and let your elected officials know why increased in-home nursing availability is important to you, email advocacy@bayada.com

BAYADA Honors Mark Baiada, NJ Legislative Champions

On October 24, the Government Affairs Office (GAO), our advocates, and our legislative honorees reflected on a year of legislative victories while looking ahead to the challenges that still lie ahead. The night’s honorees included Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, Assemblyman Daniel Benson, and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy.  Each legislator, and all in attendance, were touched by the words of Christina Cerza, mother to a BAYADA client, and her story detailing how excellent, reliable, and compassionate home care has changed their lives. In turn, each legislator spoke of the importance of home care and of the vital role our advocacy efforts play in the legislative process.

Also honored was our very own Chairman, founder, and biggest advocate Mark Baiada. Chief Government Affairs Officer David Totaro spoke of Mark’s pioneering work to advance home care and to persistently advocate for disabled children and adults who need a voice.

Our speakers, honorees, and nearly 100 guests celebrated the successful increase of NJ’s fee-for-service rate for personal care assistants to $19 an hour, and an increase to $16 an hour for managed care companies. We also celebrated the successful passage of the groundbreaking Parking Accessibility Bill (sponsored by honoree Assemblywoman Carol Murphy), which ensures home care agencies can accept cases and care for residents without the burden of parking tickets and towing fees. In celebrating these two legislative victories, we acknowledged and honored the commitment to advocacy of our employees, clients, and families.

After a heartfelt evening that reminded everyone of our purpose and why we love what we do, we look forward to another year of action and advocacy at BAYADA. Being an advocate takes many forms. Whether you attend a district office meeting, become a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, call your legislator, take action on a legislative alert, or join our Political Action Committee (PAC), you are making a meaningful difference in the lives of our clients and BAYADA caregivers.

If you would like to get more involved in New Jersey’s advocacy program, sign up to become a Heart for Home Care Advocate. If you would like to get more involved in New Jersey’s advocacy program and learn more about our PAC, reach out to us at advocacy@bayada.com.

A Season of Advocacy

Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors at the State Capitol

Over the past six months, GAO and our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors have been busy advocating on behalf of BAYADA’s clients and employees. Here is a brief look at our advocacy efforts in 2018 so far:

-19 Hearts for Home Ambassadors met with over 60 NJ legislators during our 2nd Annual New Jersey Advocacy Week.

-25 Ambassadors attended the Assembly vote to advocate for the Parking Accessibility Bill

-All NJ ACSP offices participated in a letter writing campaign to the Governor’s Office. Thank you to the many clients and aides who advocated for themselves, and to the directors for facilitating this campaign!

-8,600 emails were sent to key legislators and to the Governor’s Office urging them to support our PCA Budget Resolution. Thank you to all office and field employees who took action!

If you are interested in becoming a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, please contact Mike Sokoloski.

Parking Placard Bill Passes Legislature Unanimously!

Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors show up to support an important parking placard bill for NJ staff and clients

In many of the state’s concentrated communities, parking has presented nurses and the state’s most medically fragile individuals with a sincere barrier to care. In many areas, caregivers must possess permits to drive and park legally in restricted areas. However, even with these permits, our nurses often receive tickets or even have their cars towed.

To address this issue, GAO worked with Assemblywoman Carol Murphy to introduce the Parking Placard Bill, which will enable health care workers to obtain parking placards that will allow them to park overnight on restricted streets, overtime at parking meters, and on college campuses.

The bill recently passed both houses of the legislatures unanimously, and now awaits Governor Murphy’s signature. This bill will take effect 18 months after it is signed into law.

We could not have done this without your advocacy! Thank you to the many New Jersey Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors who went above and beyond in advocating for this important bill, which will help our staff and clients and save our service offices from paying unnecessary tickets and fees.

 

Approved State Budget Includes Reimbursement Rate Requirement

The New Jersey state legislature avoided a government shutdown when Governor Murphy signed the proposed budget into law late Sunday, July 1. The approved budget sets the state fee-for-service rate at $19.00 per hour and establishes a rate floor, which requires MCOs to reimburse home health care providers at no less than $16.00 an hour for personal care services.

GAO is continuing to work closely with legislators to further clarify the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) increase, which passed last year (A320). This clarification will address the direct and indirect costs that were overlooked by Governor Christie’s conditional veto last session. For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to advocacy@bayada.com.

NJ Medicaid’s Steve Tunney Visits BAYADA for Presentation on MLTSS

On March 20, Steve Tunney and his team members from New Jersey Medicaid made the trip to the Contract Management Office (CMO) in Parsippany, NJ to present on the state’s Medicaid program, including Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS), respite care, and provider relations.

This thoughtful and thorough presentation was helpful in ensuring that we continue to efficiently navigate state regulations and resources in our pursuit of delivering compassionate and reliable care to our clients and communities. Thank you to Steve Tunney, Joe Bongiovanni, and Geralyn Molinari for joining us!

Ambassadors Prove they are Ready to Share their Voices at Ambassador Training

Dozens of NJ Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors gather for a day of advocacy training.

In the beginning of March, New Jersey Hearts for home Care Ambassadors gathered for 2018 Ambassador Training to brainstorm and reflect on the many ways in which we can effectively advocate on behalf of our field employees, our clients, and their families. Whether it was discussing phases of grassroots advocacy, the local and federal landscapes and initiatives, or specific lobbying strategies, ambassadors made one thing clear: They are passionate, dedicated, informed, and ready to be the advocates that BAYADA needs.

Throughout Ambassador Training, ambassadors approached legislative issues with many perspectives in mind. Three such perspectives were that of the client, the client’s family, and the field employee. While there are needs and priorities specific to each category, ensuing discussions made it increasingly clear just how connected each of these perspectives are. For example, by advocating for a higher reimbursement rate and living wages for nurses and aides, we are directly advocating

for higher quality care for our clients. In other words, ambassadors stressed the need to understand and believe that when it comes to improving access to and quality of home health care, we are in this together.

Katie Macklin of the Alzheimer’s Association joined us to further reinforce our connectedness. Providing our ambassadors with information about advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association, Katie identified the impact of organizing and mobilizing across organizations working for a common purpose: providing help and care to those who need it.

To tie in political and legislative perspectives, we were joined by New Jersey Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and lobbyists Gene Mulroy and Paul Crupi. Each provided ambassadors with thoughtful and useful strategies for meeting with and educating legislators. By far the most effective tool we have, they argued, was the power of storytelling.

No one illustrated this point better than Dana Isley, a BAYADA client and parent to a medically complex child. Dana delivered a phenomenal and incredibly moving speech about her home visit with a legislator during which she detailed some of the challenges that she and her daughter, Abi, face. Incredibly impacted by Dana and Abi’s story during this home visit, her legislator acted quickly to provide them resources and support. Dana’s story reiterates a vital point: Your stories make the biggest difference.

At the heart of this collaborative event was an understanding that relationships drive advocacy. Ambassadors’ motivation to advocate stemmed from their sense of dedication and deep closeness to those they care for. With this motivation, they are driven to form relationships with their legislators to advocate for their staff and clients. Our ambassadors continue to show that it only takes one person and one action to make a difference.

 

Assemblywoman Speight Meets ESS Client on Home Visit

Assemblywoman Shanique Speight is new to the state legislature, which makes it all the more important to introduce her to home care right away.

Essex County State Assistive Care (ESS) Director Lisa Minnella and her Clinical Manager Bonnie Caterson arranged for the assemblywoman to meet one of their special clients, 92-year-old Ms. Tisdale. Ms. Tisdale lives in Assemblywoman Speight’s district and has no family in the area. She needs certified home health aide (CHHA) services to assist her with the tasks she cannot do and help her be as independent as she can be in her own home.

The assemblywoman was very happy to meet Ms. Tisdale and spend time learning more about how home care services benefit her constituents and keep so many seniors in their homes.

Picture: ESS Director Lisa Minnella and Assemblywoman Speight with Ms. Tisdale

NJ PCA “Clean-up” Bill Awaits Health Committee Vote

NJ Senator Troy Singleton and Assembly Committee on Human Services Chairwoman Assemblywoman Joann Downey have introduced legislation S1820/A3632 to further clarify the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) increase to direct care workers.

The legislation will simplify the process for the PCA direct care worker’s rate increase and will take provider costs into account. GAO is currently meeting with members of the legislature to ask for their support for this clarification bill.

As background, New Jersey’s PCA program has had historically low reimbursement rates under the state’s fee-for-service. Over the last three years, GAO was successful in increasing the state -fee-for-service rate from $15.50 to $18.00 per hour and last year, to $19.00 per hour. Unfortunately, when the PCA program transitioned to Managed Medicaid, managed care companies did not follow the same reimbursement rates and continued to pay, in many cases, less than $15.50 per hour.

In the last legislative session, GAO was successful in passing legislation which set a reimbursement floor in managed care for PCA at $19.00 per hour. However, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the legislation with a stipulation requiring all increases pass directly through to direct care workers.

The legislation introduced by Senator Singleton and Assemblywoman Downey will further clarify the PCA increases to account for direct and indirect provider costs. If you have any questions about this bill or any other bills in NJ, please feel free to email me at llindenmeier@bayada.com.

NJ Legislature Addresses Parking Issues for Nurses

In many of the state’s concentrated communities, parking has presented nurses and the state’s most medically fragile individuals with a sincere barrier to care. In many cases, our nurses must possess a parking permit to park legally. However, even with these permits, our nurses often receive tickets or even have their cars towed.

During a recent conversation with Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) explained that nurses are reluctant to serve clients in these areas, which has led to recruitment and retention issues for BAYADA and other home care providers.

As a result, the assemblywoman introduced legislation A3683, which would allow home care providers to obtain parking placards, comparable to handicapped parking placards, from the Motor Vehicle Commission, for our nurses. We are currently waiting for the bill to be heard in the Transportation Committee.