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Archived: We Deserve the Same Level of Care That We Are Providing

Is waiting eight months to see your doctor a good healthcare plan? I don’t think it is. Yet, for me and many other in-home healthcare providers, that’s often how long we have to wait before we get to see a doctor. As an in-home healthcare worker, I have a health plan provided by the County of Los Angeles. Sadly, this healthcare plan does not reflect the growing healthcare needs of its recipients.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Since then, caring for my health has been a struggle. This past January, I called my clinic to make an appointment for my six-month check up. I was told the next appointment available would be in August, a full eight months later. As a diabetic, this worried me. What if I am doing something wrong? What if my vision is impaired? What if my sugar levels are wrong?

In addition, our healthcare program only allows us to make appointments on Tuesday and Thursdays between 1:30pm and 4:00 pm. As you can imagine, if you have ever tried to call any customer service number, the hold time seems like forever, and sometimes no one answers.

I try to be proactive about my health because I don’t want to go to the emergency room. I don’t want to be a burden to county services. I simply want to be able to see my doctor without having to wait eight months.

I know I am not alone in this issue. There are hundreds of other home care providers with my same situation, if not worse.

In my everyday work, I and thousands of home care workers care for the healthcare needs of our seniors and people with disabilities. Yet, when it comes to caring for our own health, we are sometimes at a loss.

As we renegotiate our contract with LA County, our two key asks are simple: provide home care providers with a living wage of $9.65 an hour, and to take a look at ways to improve access to the healthcare we need. In order for me to be able to do my job and continue to be a vital part of my community, I need to be healthy; I need to be able to see my doctor.

Jaime Reyna is a in-home healthcare worker with SEIU ULTCW. For more information visit www.ultcw.org/lawins. He residents in East Los Angeles.