Well, I'm back. Once in awhile I ask the question, where are all the nurses going? Each year, hundreds of nurses graduate from nursing school in Southeast Missouri, but there is a severe shortage of licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses and certified nurse aides are getting harder to find, too.
I am a certified nurse aide. I work in a nursing home and sometimes work in homes. Most nursing homes pay CNAs minimum wage. The bigger cities are paying CNAs up to $18 an hour to start. LPNs with several years of experience make $10-$15 an hour. The low wages contributes to the nursing shortage in this area.
But there are many other factors in the mix. Little girls used to want to grow up to be nurses. That is no longer true. The nursing profession is no longer a calling. Women run heavy equipment, fly fighter jets and work in construction. Ten dollars an hour or $30 an hour, which would you go for? A whole array of what used to be men-only jobs are attracting a lot of women.
But sick, old people in nursing homes are not going away anytime soon. In fact, people are living longer and the number of people in nursing homes are expected to double in the next 20 years. Will there be any nurses? I will be 71 years old in 20 years. Who will take care of me? My wife asked our son Thomas, "You'll take care of Mom and Dad when we get old, won't you?" His reply: "Yeah, right. You guys are going to the nursing home."
There are a lot of good nursing homes with a lot of good nurses, but nowhere near enough. In the southwestern states, some of the old people are being sent across the border to cheaper care centers in Mexico. Nursing homes charge over $100 a day in the United States. Some in Mexico charge $10 a day and less because labor is cheaper.
Still, nurses graduate by the hundreds each year. Nurses, where are you? Someone is waiting to see a smiling face, to hold a hand, to get a bath and a drink of water, maybe a dry, clean bed or a pillow fluffed. They are waiting to be turned in bed and they are waiting to die. They can't die alone.
Somebody has to be there for them. Will it be you? Or me? Some day we will be waiting and waiting and waiting.
Larry Coram, Oran
The renewable fuels amendment in the U.S. Senate passed last week is welcome news for our state's economy, our farmers and the environment.
The amendment includes a provision doubling the amount of ethanol used as an additive in the nation's fuel supply to at least five billion gallons by 2012, or around 3 percent of the U.S. fuel supply. Over time, ethanol will replace nationwide use of MTBE, a gasoline additive that has been linked to groundwater contamination and cancer.
This amendment to the federal energy bill will create new markets for our surplus corn, improve corn prices, help keep our farm economy strong and boost rural economic development. Increased domestic use of ethanol also helps limit our dependence on foreign oil.
Already, Missouri is one of the top 10 states for producing ethanol. Despite difficult state budget cuts, Gov. Holden and Missouri lawmakers are to be commended for retaining a portion of the mandated state funding for ethanol production.
Two farmer-owned production plants are already in operation and three more are in the works. With the passage of this amendment, Missouri stands to gain jobs and strengthen its agriculture sector.
That's something all Missourians should applaud.
Lowell Mohler, Missouri Department of Agriculture
"I Believe There are Angels Among Us." That may be a popular song title, but I sincerely do believe it. The Bible tells us they are ministering spirits, sent to aid us in our times of need. They indeed are in our midst; what forms they take we may never know - maybe even strangers.
When we give of ourselves, we are like angels to those who just couldn't make it another day without our help. Giving the gift of life makes you seem like an angel to someone fighting for his or her life. You may not believe yourself to be an angel, but you are ministering to those who need the gift that only you can give.
On behalf of the American Red Cross, I would like to convey many hearts full of thanks to those who came out to our blood drive on May 15 at the First United Methodist Church to give hope and the promise of life. You will probably never know whose life you saved, but just know that you do make a difference! It is the gift that keeps on giving. By giving blood, you're keeping someone alive for the next Christmas and the Christmas after that.
We would like to express appreciation to Domino's and Ryan's for generously donating refreshments for the donors. As always, a heartfelt thank you to the Rotary Club for supporting us through the years, especially to Mike Bollinger for taking care of us. KSIM is always there to help inform the listeners and publicity is the key for success. Last but not least, hat's off to the Standard Democrat for their dedication year in and year out with their news stories and complete coverage of the American Red Cross.
I would like to thank everyone who has given blood during 2003. We have a lot of faithful donors who we see every time, and we also appreciate the first-timers. I've gotten to know a lot of people just through the blood drives, and you are the best. These people are responsible for saving people's lives, for giving them another chance. Blood is the only thing that cannot be manmade. It can't be synthesized.
If you have never given blood, I urge you to try it. It only takes about 30 minutes of your time and it is the best 30 minutes you can ever give back to mankind.
We will be having other blood drives from noon to 4 p.m. June 28 at the Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores and from 1 to 6 p.m. July 21 at Hunter Memorial First Presbyterian Church. I hope to see you there, because if you ever need blood, I believe you will agree with me when you receive it that there really are angels among us. Give us the best gift of all. Give blood, the gift of life, because help can't wait.
Freida Cardwell, American Red Cross