Improving DC’s Healthcare Workforce

November 1, 2021

Judy Levy, Coordinator for Iona Senior Services and DC’s Coalition on Long-Term Care, and Claudia Schlosberg, member of Iona’s Board of Directors, were honored with DC Appleseed’s Community Service Award in October.

The DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice is a nonprofit dedicated to making the District of Columbia a better place to live and work. According to Jeffrey L. Handwerker, who presented the Arnold and Porter Community Service Award, “Claudia Schlosberg and Judy Levy have been essential in helping to make the District government support the direct care healthcare workforce. They have educated stakeholders, sent letters, made phone calls, organized meetings, made connections, and, quite simply, banged the drum the loudest in getting the Nurse Education Enhancement Act passed in the most recent DC budget.”

The Nurse Education Enhancement Act of 2021 was passed by the DC Council in August 2021 and provides $5.8 million over the next three years to support training and education for certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and medication assistants. Participants are eligible for free tuition and a monthly stipend. After two years of employment in one of these fields, students can continue their nursing education at the University of the District of Columbia for free.

According to the DC Coalition on Long-Term Care, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the home healthcare workforce. Seventy-three percent of home health and home support agencies reported that more home health aides are leaving the workforce or not reporting to work since the pandemic began. Over half of agencies say they do not currently have enough home health aides to staff all their clients at every shift. (Read the findings here.)

“The Coalition’s focus on the healthcare workforce has never wavered since it was established in 1995,” says Levy. “Today we are faced with shortages including direct care workers. The Nurse Education Enhancement Act is one part of this effort. We are also focused on job quality such as benefits and salary because we believe that quality jobs mean quality care.”

“Investing in workforce development today is essential to the mission of Iona Senior Services and to our ability to meet the needs of a growing population of District seniors who need assistance and support to live independently in the community,” adds Scholsberg.

Congratulations, Judy and Claudia! Watch them accept the award by watching the video below. (Starts at 59:51)