The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 7, 2013

Human services commissioner visits VINE during information quest

MANKATO — When Greg White came to Marlys Jorgenson’s home to see what kind of help VINE Faith in Action could give her, he was saddened.

Jorgenson has been caring for an ailing husband, and much of that care involves doing lots of laundry. So her routine was to gather up the laundry in a basket and head for the staircase; the washer and dryer were in the basement.

Instead of carrying it down the stairs, Jorgenson, who is elderly, had to kick the basket of laundry down the stairs, descend the stairs, and gather it all up again.

When the laundry was done, she’d carry it up the stairs, holding the basket of laundry in one hand a cane in the other.

“It broke my heart,” White said, sitting in a chair in Jorgenson’s living room Thursday, explaining how VINE helped install main floor laundry appliances for her.

Across the room in another chair was a woman who’d driven all the way from St. Paul to hear stories like this in the hopes that she can make meaningful change to the way we care for the elderly in Minnesota.

Lucinda Jesson, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, came to Mankato to visit with representatives of VINE and people who have been affected by them.

“The reason I’m here,” she told a group a Mankato residents, “is to understand at a fundamental level what places like VINE are doing that are making people’s lives better.”

Jesson is hoping to redesign the way the state funds human services through an initiative called Reform 2020. She wants to shift money to programs that can help people stay in their homes longer. Doing that, she said, not only can keep people happier, but save taxpayers money. By not entering a nursing home, they can put off having to use Medicare for years or, in some cases, forever.

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