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Nursing homes forced to turn away patients due to staff shortages

A new report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Association reveals that nursing homes are struggling to admit patients due to a severe shortage of staff. The shortage has resulted in empty beds and increased costs for medical care, ultimately putting a strain on the emergency medical services (EMS) system.

Shortage of Staff: Numbers and Impact

The report found that out of 69 nursing facilities surveyed, 52% of them had to limit admissions because of the shortage of staff to care for more residents. Over a three-month period, facilities turned away an average of 17 patients due to staff limitations. Furthermore, almost 25% of the respondents had between 21-40% of their beds available but could not be used due to staffing limitations.

Waiting List and Lack of Workers

Pennsylvania has almost 700 nursing home facilities, with a waiting list of 2,000 people in need of a bed. While many facilities have available space, they do not have enough workers. The nursing home industry lost 30,000 workers since 2020, a consequence of the pandemic. Though other areas of health care employment have rebounded, the nursing industry is still struggling to recover.

Pay Disparity and Increased Costs

The average wage for a full-time certified nurse aide in a nursing home is $17.26, while a contracted CNA can earn almost $35, resulting in more CNAs choosing contract work over full-time work. Nursing homes are turning to agencies to fill their staffing needs, which drives up their costs.

“It is clear our access to care crisis will not go away until our workforce crisis is first addressed,” Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, said in a press release. “At the same time providers are facing historic workforce shortages, our aging population is rapidly increasing, with the number of Pennsylvania adults 85 and older expected to nearly double between now and 2040.”

This article first appeared in the Franklin County Free Press.


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