Amidst the perseverance of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry has taken a massive blow. There are intense staffing shortages in the field, and the public is suffering from these scarcities. The Washington Post gave a detailed report on these worsening staff deficiencies, more specifically in long term care facilities.
Nursing homes tend to lessen the stress on hospitals as recovered patients typically move there after being released. Without proper staffing, though, facilities have not been able to take in patients from hospitals. A specific example of this misfortune stems from the Terrace View nursing home in Buffalo, New York. The home is currently not running at full capacity, and there are up to 22 beds not being used due to lack of staff.
The Washington Post article elaborates on this disaster, highlighting another facility affected. “That means some fully recovered patients in the adjacent Erie County Medical Center must stay in their hospital rooms, waiting for a bed in the nursing home. Which means some patients in the emergency department, who should be admitted to the hospital, must stay there until a hospital bed opens up. The emergency department becomes stretched so thin that 10 to 20 percent of arrivals leave without seeing a caregiver — after an average wait of six to eight hours, according to the hospital’s data.”
Many long-term care facilities across the country are facing these same troubles. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) found 58% of nursing homes are cutting down on arrivals, again, because of the shortage of staff members.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that 425,000 long term care workers left the industry since February 2020. Though other industries have seen economic growth since the onset of the pandemic, nursing homes have not had the same luck. “Remarkably, despite the horrific incidents of death and illness in nursing homes at the outset of the pandemic, more staff departures have come during the economic recovery. As restaurants and shops reopened and hiring set records, nursing homes continued to bleed workers, even as residents returned.”
These troubles are heightened in more rural areas. The article, too, depicts the story of Diakonos Group in Medford, Oklahoma, that had to shut down since there was simply not enough staff. The facility provided care for patients with mental health needs, but after the pandemic started, they found that their staff had endured too much. Diakonos Group CEO Scott Pilgrim explained that although the business offered a raise in hourly wages, bonuses and overtime, employees continued to leave, and they could not withstand these absences.
AHCA/NCAL urges lawmakers to work with the long term care division of healthcare to fix this staffing crisis and devote resources to employ caregivers. As hospitals continue to be directly affected by this catastrophe, change must be made as soon as possible. AHCA/NCAL encourages Congress to take action and ease these tensions placed on both hospitals and long term care facilities.