Mike Pollock is a husband, father, business owner, and champion of home care. An author of a book about advocacy entitled From Death's Door to Disney World, he speaks at public events and devotes his time to advocacy groups dedicated to giving home care a stronger tomorrow.
Mike came to the home care world when his wife, Kathy, experienced a brain tumor in 2002, followed by two strokes caused by the tumor treatment that left her paralyzed with a traumatic brain injury. She had many extended stays in hospitals, rehab facilities, and a nursing home, all with the goal of eventually getting her to the place she most desired to be – home.
Early in 2006, Kathy returned home to the upstairs apartment above Mike’s hardware store in Atco, NJ. At first, she needed visits from therapists, nurses, and a physician. As her condition improved, she remained wheelchair bound and required help with personal care needs such as bathing, getting dressed, and eating. Home health aides now provide Kathy’s main care needs.
Kathy has two home health aides, Lucy and Alma, who have been with her for several years and that the family really trusts. They are so in-tune to Kathy’s medical needs, they can pick up on any little change and address it quickly before it escalates into a problem. They are everything that a family would want in a care provider: skilled, compassionate, reliable, they enjoy their jobs, and have developed a strong, caring relationship with their client. Several years ago, Lucy actually moved to the same neighborhood as the Pollack family so she would never miss or be late for a shift due to bad weather or traffic jams. While Mike is grateful for the care these women provide Kathy, he knows the home care industry needs more aides like them.
Over the years, Mike has seen exceptional caregivers who love what they do leave the profession because of low pay. They have left a career in caregiving that they love, not because they wanted to, but because they could make more money moving boxes than caring for a person. In his heart, Mike knew this was wrong. Wanting to do something about this, he has met with many elected officials including a congressman, state senators, and assemblypeople, to advocate for the special aides who he trusts and values to care for his loved one.
Mike knows that when home care agencies receive better reimbursement rates and are able to offer better pay and benefits, more capable and caring people will choose caregiving as a career. Dedicated home health aides will no longer have to ignore their calling in life to care for others in order to provide for their own families. Only with competitive pay will the home care industry be able to have more Lucys and Almas. Mike has shared this view with elected officials to give voice to the dire situation of the aides dedicated to caring for people in their homes – where they want to be.
Mike is a “Champion Among Us” because he has dedicated his life to providing care for his wife, and to standing up for those that provide this care to clients and their families. He does it with the intent to leave a footprint for a better tomorrow for all of us as the home care industry continues to grow. He knows that at some point in our lives we will all be touched by a Home Health Care Agency and wants to ensure we all receive the best care possible from the best aides who are fairly reimbursed for their exceptional care.