Senator O’Brien introduces CARE Act to support in-home caregivers

LANSING, Mich. – New legislation announced at a Wednesday press conference by State Senator Margaret O’Brien to help prepare and support in-home caregivers when providing assistance for loved ones after they leave the hospital was formally introduced in the Senate Thursday.

“It is important that we update health care policies that protect our most vulnerable,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Ensuring caregivers have the proper knowledge to care for their loved ones is essential.”

Senate Bill 352, or the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, would provide in-home caregivers who are designated by soon-to-be discharged patients with hospital-provided consultation and instruction for any after-care assistance tasks that do not require a licensed professional once a patient is released. Typical tasks include providing assistance with bathing and dressing, transportation, finances and more complex medical tasks, like administering wound care and medication injections.

The training is part of what the legislation calls a discharge plan. Hospitals would work with patients to develop a plan, which includes the designation and training of a caregiver for assistance with the basic activities of daily living. Plans must also include a description of all necessary after-care assistance tasks; contact information for any health care, community resources and long-term services and supports that may be needed; and contact information for a hospital employee who may respond to caretaker-related questions.

Additionally, the legislation would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to oversee and implement the CARE Act.

According to AARP, family caregiving is increasing in Michigan as baby boomers become older adults. The group’s research suggests Michigan has more than 2 million caregivers at any given time during a calendar year, providing 1.4 billion hours of free care to loved ones, which is valued at more than $15.5 billion.

“Family caregivers work hard to help their parents, spouses and other loved ones live at home, while trying to keep up with their own jobs and make ends meet,” said William McCarty, a member of AARP Michigan’s Executive Council. “The least we can do is provide these unsung heroes some of the information and training they need to carry out this noble mission.”

A 2013 study from New Jersey indicates the state’s hospitals reduced readmissions by 5,492 — 13 percent — after enacting similar legislation, which led to a cost savings of $52 million.

Michigan currently ranks 35th in the nation for its level of legal and system supports for family caregivers, according to AARP.

SB 352 was referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee for consideration.


O’Brien: Senate holds 21st Annual Memorial Day Service

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LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate held its 21st Annual Memorial Day Service in the Senate chamber on Thursday, announced state Senator Margaret O’Brien.

O’Brien welcomed U.S. Navy and Vietnam War veteran, T.W. Lane, and his wife, Susan, to the Senate for the ceremony. Lane currently serves as director of Portage-based Lest We Forget our Vets Inc.

“The Michigan Senate has a wonderful tradition of honoring the lives of the men and women of our armed forces,” said O’Brien, R-Portage, chair of the Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. “Most of us have family members and friends who have bravely served our country in the line of duty. I hope this Memorial Day serves as a reminder of the many sacrifices our servicemen and women have made to protect our freedoms.”

Lawmakers honored soldiers from their districts who died within the past year. Families who lost loved ones were also recognized by the Senate.

The Kalamazoo Pipe Band also participated in the ceremony.

The Michigan Senate held its first Memorial Day Service at the initiative of former U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, who was then a state senator.


Senator O’Brien Attends 9-1-1 Conference, Presents Kalamazoo Resident with Child Hero Award

LANSING, Mich. – State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, today presented 4-year-old Calise Manning, of Kalamazoo, with the Michigan Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association’s 2015 Child Hero award during the group’s annual 9-1-1 Conference and Exhibit Show.

O’Brien’s appearance was part of the conference’s Government Day. Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley were also in attendance.

Manning dialed 9-1-1 last January when her then-pregnant mother, Centerria, was having a seizure. The mother attributes their practice-calling the emergency phone number to her daughter’s quick thinking. The dispatcher, who credited the girl for the act and her calm demeanor, nominated her for the award.

“Emergency dispatchers are invisible heroes,” said O’Brien. “Debbie Spencer worked with little Calise to save the life of her mother. It is an honor to recognize the heroism of both Debbie and Calise.”

According to the association, it serves members and the greater public safety community as the only professional organization solely focused on 9-1-1 policy, technology, operations and education issues.

With more than 9,000 members in 48 chapters across the United States and around the globe, the organization promotes the implementation and awareness of 9-1-1, and works with 9-1-1 professionals, public policy leaders, emergency services and telecommunications industry partners, like-minded public safety associations and others to develop and carry out critical programs and initiatives.


Photo Advisory: Senator O’Brien co-hosts annual Senior and Veterans Expo

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, speaks with an attendee at the 2015 Senior and Veterans Expo in Mattawan.

The free event featured more than 100 exhibitors showcasing products, free samples and door prizes. Many community service providers, health care professionals, businesses and organizations were also on hand to meet with the estimated crowd of 700 residents from Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

O’Brien co-hosts the annual event with Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and Representative Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton.

For more information on the expo, visit


O’Brien Announces Positive Economic Outlook for Kalamazoo County

LANSING, Mich.—Senator Margaret O’Brien announced on Friday that the state’s career outlook information shows that Michigan’s business climate is improving and spurring economic growth and job creation.

“Michigan is showing positive signs of economic growth, which is great news for Southwest Michigan families, job creators and job seekers,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Nearly 400,000 private sector jobs have been created in four years and unemployment has been reduced from a high of 14.2 percent in 2009 to 5.6 percent today — the lowest it has been since 2001.”

The Career Outlook 2020 numbers have been compiled for 18 Michigan regions by the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives and the Michigan Workforce Development Agency.

According to the outlook for Kalamazoo County and St. Joseph County, the industry with the largest projected job growth is health care, with 2,140 new jobs. Other sectors with large job growth projections in the region include food service, education, office and clerical work and manufacturing and engineering.

“This information points to strong future job growth and also highlights current advertised job openings in Kalamazoo,” O’Brien said. “This is encouraging news for those looking for work or considering a career change and especially Michigan students contemplating which career path to pursue. Kalamazoo County is a great place to live, work and raise a family and I am confident that with further reforms we will see even more improvement in economic projections for the area.”

The largest number of online advertised jobs currently available are for truck/tractor drivers with 1,204 jobs openings, industrial engineers with 551 openings and customer service professionals with 443 openings.

“From Southwest Michigan First’s consultations with existing employers, we surmise that the numbers of open positions might even be higher for some occupations, like mechanical engineers, if employers could fill their current employment gaps,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First. “We applaud Governor Snyder’s commitment to supporting continued economic development efforts and workforce development through tools, like the Skilled Trades Training Fund and career and technical training coursework, to meet future employer demands.”

Career outlook information for Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties can be downloaded as a PDF file by clicking here.

Customized information for each region of the state is also available online at Click on “Publications” in the left column and then click on “Career Outlook 2020.”


Senate Urges U.S. Select Fort Custer for Major Missile Defense Program

LANSING, Mich. — The State Senate on Thursday adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 9 urging the Missile Defense Agency within the U.S. Department of Defense to select the Fort Custer Training Center for the agency’s forthcoming ground-based interceptor ballistic missile defense mission.

The 7,500-acre Michigan National Guard facility located in Augusta is one of four sites under consideration.

“The placement of the ballistic missile defense system at Fort Custer would leverage the base’s strategic location and security and its outstanding environmental record,” said Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee Chair Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, who sponsored the resolution. “Michigan is prepared to support the missile defense system’s construction, operation and personnel, and we strongly urge the Missile Defense Agency to select Fort Custer.”

According to the agency, the ground-based interceptor ballistic missile defense system provides the capability to engage and destroy limited intermediate and long-range ballistic missile threats in space to protect the United States. The system employs integrated communications networks, fire control systems, globally deployed sensors and Ground-Based Interceptors that are capable of detecting, tracking and destroying ballistic missile threats.

While protecting the state and nation from ballistic missile attacks is the main purpose, there is also a major economic impact. The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research estimates the project would contribute $3.2 billion to the region’s economy and support more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 9 can be read in its entirety by clicking here.