IMMIGRATION AND HEALTH CARE

Last month I was surprised to find a nursing home trade magazine advocating open immigration policies to fulfill staffing needs in nursing homes. Apparently, extensive lobbying efforts have been initiated in Washington to allow these “much needed” workers ways to enter the counrty. Please, do not misunderstand my reaction. I am actually pro-immigration and want many to have the opportunities that the United States provides. I am just amazed that the educational differences, as well as obvious language barriers do not cause alarm for healthcare providers – and today, I learned it is not just nursing homes, the idea is industry wide.

An article in BlueHNews, a hospital administration paper says “Current Immigration Reform is Not Nurse Friendly.” The article cites Michael Lodge, President and CEO of VisionQwest Healtcare. Mr. Lodge says it is a “big problem” when “we can’t hire more nurses because we do not have the visas to apply for and we get bombarded everday for requests for nurses from medical and skilled nursing facilities and we can’t provide.” Well – here is an idea Mr. Lodge. PAY YOUR NURSES MORE, and there will not be a need to recruit from counrtries that do not provide a living wage for their workers.

I spent a wonderful week in the Dominican Republic with my church this month, and it was very clear that absent the ability to speak Spanish, I was not going to be able to connect with the people I met on anything but a very shallow level. How is a CNA that does not speak the language of her patient, or her supervisor, going to be able to effectively treat and provide? That is where my fear comes in, and frankly my surprise that hospitals and nursing homes would be so pro-immigration, that they would direct money towards Washington for lobbying. Anyone think immigrants are desired because they will take less for the same work? I do, and that upsets me on MANY levels.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.