As someone with three degrees who built a successful nursing career over 28 years, I never expected to find myself in the situation I’m in now: working part time and struggling to pay my bills.
I worked for 27 years as a nurse and built a secure middle-class life, bought a home and looked forward to the future. Years on my feet, lifting patients and equipment, finally caught up to me. In 2018, I had to have back surgery. After a year-long recovery I couldn’t lift anything heavy and I wasn’t able to return to patient care. I knew I needed to take my career in a new direction. I became an RN analyst, doing computer work for an outpatient hospital system.
But the pandemic caused a major upheaval in the health care industry and I was laid off along with 37 other coworkers in August of 2020. Since then, I have been trying to find a full-time job, but even with my credentials and experience it’s been incredibly difficult to find jobs in the health care industry that I can do without reinjuring my back.
Now I have a part-time job as a clinical nursing instructor at Arizona Western College, supporting and instructing nursing students on their clinical rotations. It’s a job I really enjoy, but I typically only get about 14 hours a week of work. My monthly income went from about $4,000 a month to $1,600.
That’s not enough to live on. And now I no longer have employer-paid health insurance. So I’ve put off doctor’s appointments, new glasses and the dentist. I have to pay $300 a month just for the prescriptions I need to keep my blood pressure in check and deal with back pain. In the last year I spent all my savings, even as I have tried to cut back and economize on everything that isn’t essential.
Getting unemployment has been extremely difficult. I’ve had to jump over hurdle after hurdle to get benefits and I was quickly taken off the rolls in the spring when I was late responding to a letter from the unemployment office as I cared for my elderly mother who was dying of Covid. In the midst of a deadly global pandemic, it seems there is no grace for people going through a heart-breaking loss.
It’s been really rough to see my life totally upended in the last year. And I know lots of other Arizonans are facing the same struggles that I am.
I am a conservative and I voted for Donald Trump, but I am calling on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to support the Biden administration’s proposals to help working people survive this pandemic and the financial upheaval it has caused for so many families. We need more good jobs to get people back to work and revitalize local communities.
Arizonans also need more affordable health care options, I can’t afford a marketplace plan and I can’t afford to pay out of pocket for the medications I need to take every day, much less the regular care I need to keep me healthy.
We need more help keeping utility costs down. As an Arizonan Senator Sinema, you know how much it costs to cool your home on 118-degree summer days.
I am also the mother of two adult children and a grandmother of eight. The expanded child tax credit has made a huge difference for my son and daughter and their families – it should be permanent.
It feels like all our elected representatives in Washington keep telling us to wait for more support. But if I wait any longer, I’m going to lose my house.
Senator Sinema, we need you to stand up for us. Now is the time for action.
Leslie Morin lives in Yuma.