The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers.

The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers. Letters regarding current local and national news items are encouraged. All letters are subject to editing for length and style. Letters containing potentially libelous or obscene statements will not be published. Letters must contain name, address and phone number for verification and in case of questions. E-mail letters to: Letters may also be mailed to:  Editor, Montevideo Publishing, P.O. Box 99, Montevideo, MN 56265

My hero!

We all know the high costs of healthcare. It would seem reasonable to expect that all  essential staff are valued and well paid.

A night shift janitor working at a prominent hospital in the big city has a very challenging job, not only doing the routine cleaning, but ready to respond to any of 3 pagers. One for maintenance such as a leaky pipe. Another to clean and sanitize if someone moves for emergency reasons or if someone dies. A third pager notifies him to clean up after a sick patient, suiting up when at risk of hazardous waste, knowing that a mistake could put his own  health in danger.

This service engineer is on a time clock. Extra minutes before or after are docked from his Paid Time Off. After 6 years at this job, he is eligible for an annual  raise of 0 - 3% depending on his evaluation. His wage? Less than $12/hour. New hires start at $12.40/hour. He is told that new hires are on a different pay scale from when he was hired. How does he live on less than $12/hour?

He loves his small apartment.  He doesn't complain. He receives no government assistance. He doesn’t go on vacation. He seldom goes anywhere other than to work and back.    He lives very simply. He loves his family, even managing to help his grandchildren with medical needs. He is my hero for managing on so little.   

I often hear similar stories of low wages, staff shortages and the resulting high turnover of staff at some of our group homes for the disabled or elderly in this community. The healthcare industry needs to consider fair and just wages for it’s employees that it depends on to give quality care to those that are dependent on them for services.     

I say this so that all of us can be more supportive and appreciative of all the necessary and essential staff that keep us healthy and well served.

—Vicki Poier