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Home health important to Mills residents

Vernadine Jensen of New York Mills experienced major life changes when she started cancer treatment last May, and since has come to appreciate home health services.

Louise Tower, RN, on Monday was at Vernadine's for a regular visit as part of home health through Perham Memorial Hospital and Home. Sen. Dan Skogen was with Tower on three visits in New York Mills. He asked questions and said he wanted to get a better understanding of how home health works.

Skogen said prior to serving in the senate he was aware of such agencies and services, but now he sees them as budget items in the state budget.

"It's good for me to see real people helping real people," Skogen told Vernadine and her son, Dave Harper.

Vernadine, who recently moved in with her son so he could help care for her, made it clear just how important home health is to her.

"If it wasn't for people like Louise, I'd be in tough shape," Vernadine told the senator.

Skogen later asked Vernadine what her life would be like without home health.

"You may not be talking to me right now," she said. "I'm dead serious. It was almost a life or death thing."

Vernadine also recently suffered a stroke, which took away her ability to drive.

"All of a sudden my life flip-flopped," Vernadine said. "Without people like Louise, I'd be lost."

Dave said he can take care of many of his mother's needs, but is not medically trained to where he feels comfortable helping her with everything.

"The challenges she's facing are way outside my capabilities," Dave said.

Dave said home health allows him to keep his job at Lund Boat Co. and provide the essentials to pay rent and keep the power on.

With state budget cuts likely to affect health and human services, Louise invited Skogen on the visits to give him a first-hand look at how important home health is to the area.

"These agencies sing from the same hymnal. They don't want their funds cut," Skogen said. "These agencies provide services that help people; and it's the people on the ground providing these services."