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"It's a full-blown crisis": State leaders hope to address PCA shortage in upcoming session

Daughters of man who died from lack of PCA care want change in Minnesota
Daughters of man who died from lack of PCA care want change in Minnesota 02:09

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota leaders say the state is in a home healthcare crisis.

The most recent data show Minnesota has more than 7,000 job vacancies in the personal care industry.

WCCO covered the story of Dennis Prothero in November, a Stillwater man who suffered the effects of not being able to find a personal care assistant (PCA) to hire.

READ MORE: Man loses both legs due to Minnesota's PCA shortage: "This is a very real problem"

Prothero died shortly after that story aired of COVID and pneumonia.

"That was heartbreaking to know you can't physically be there to help your father through these tough times," said Brittany Deneys, Prothero's oldest daughter.

Chelsey Klover, another of Prothero's daughters, said she felt helpless being out of state when her father was going through his most difficult times.

Deneys, Klover, and their third sister, Kaitlyn Holmquist, say Prothero was a selfless family man with a relentlessly positive attitude, even when he was living without help.

Part of the problem is the median wage for PCAs is roughly $14 per hour, so it's a profession hurting for workers.

"That was a problem before the pandemic, but now it is a full-blown crisis," said State Sen. Carla Nelson, a Republican from Rochester.

Nelson is helping lead the bipartisan effort for more state funding toward hiring and retention bonuses and training.

A funding package passed the Senate this year but didn't make it out of the House.

"There's a good roadmap here for how we can help with that significant, and sometimes matter-of-life-and-death, staffing issues," Nelson said.

Prothero's story has been mentioned at the Capitol, something his daughters say he was proud of.

"He just wanted to make people aware, because I think if you don't know people who are drastically affected by PCA shortages, you don't know it's an issue," Holmquist said.

Klover says she doesn't want to see another family go through what hers has.

"If we can help even one person with this, we'd be definitely fulfilling his memory," she said.

Nelson is hoping to address the PCA crisis early in next year's legislative session.

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