Mom fights for pay raise for home nurses

Capitol Bureau

SHAWNEE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) – Kathy Keck is a mom with a passion to help children that need it the most.

On Monday, she was at the capitol talking about the importance of paying nurses to the Joint Committee on KanCare Oversight, the state’s Medicaid system.

Earlier this year, she and her husband legally adopted Mireya, a three-year-old girl who has disabilities because she was shaken as a baby. Now she requires constant attention.

“It’s heartbreaking to me because her life would have been so much different, because she was just a normal healthy baby,” Keck said.

Keck has also helped get a law passed that puts tougher penalties on people convicted of shaking a baby.

“Every time I see a young child and I ask the parent how young is your baby, and sometimes they’ll say seven weeks, and I’ll look at that child, and I’ll think how in the world could someone do this to a seven week old baby, all they do is eat, sleep, and cry,” Keck said.

Now she is fighting for nurses that help take care of her daughter. She said there are days that she is her daughter’s primary caretaker because they can’t find a nurse that will help them in their home. So she’s advocating for home nurses to get a pay raise so they accept the position.

“No matter how long we have her, we’re going to help her be the best she can be,” Keck said.

Supporters said the state could do more. A solution could be to divert funding from other areas to home nursing.

Sean Balke is the president of Craig Homecare, a company that facilitates nurses to families. He said the state hasn’t kept pace with funding for medically complex children.

“When we post for position, we get interest from nurses, we interview with nurses, they love the idea of this type of service,” Balke said. “But when it comes to wages, that’s the number one issue that causes nurses to decline the offer.”

Keck said the more help she can get the better.

Advocates hope the committee makes recommendations to put the pay raises in next year’s budget.

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