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Nursing homes dealing with staffing shortages

Virus Outbreak New York
Posted at 2:17 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 16:51:55-05

Nursing homes are dealing with staffing shortages, adding another challenge to care during the pandemic.

More than 3,000 nursing homes had a shortage of nurses or other direct-care staff last month, according to an analysis of government data by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group released Thursday.

They found shortages of aides were the most widespread problem in December.

This affected 20% of nursing homes across the country, up from 17% in May.

Nationally, nursing shortages were nearly as bad, affecting 18% of nursing homes in December up from 15% in May.

“Nursing homes had staffing shortage issues, even before the pandemic, so I don't know how widely known that was but certainly then once the pandemic started everything just got a lot worse,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

The nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy reviewed four recent studies. It found nursing facilities that have more nurses are more successful in containing coronavirus cases and deaths among residents.

The industry association for nursing homes says it needs more money to address the staffing shortages.

“Clearly people cost money that's number one. They need to be able to pay more overtime, to the workers who are able, to the ones who don't have child care issues or other family obligations, they need to be able to hire temporary staff and a lot of cases independent contractors cost more than a regular employee,” said Murray.

The latest $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal does include more money for PPE, testing and vaccines. But we don't know yet specifically how much nursing homes and long-term care facilities would receive.

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