WASHINGTON, D.C. – Our healthcare workers have been through some of the toughest times with the pandemic and on top of everything, our hospitals have experienced problems with staffing shortages.
This issue is now being addressed in congress.
“Healthcare has been navigating through a lot of challenges,” sad Sen. Mike Braun (R- IN).
Senators said the pandemic helped create shortages in almost every industry, including healthcare. It’s impacting local hospitals and medical centers.
“Healthcare workers have handled long hours, overcrowded facilities, fighting a deadly new virus,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D- WA).
AHN Saint Vincent Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer told us back in October they’ve struggled with staffing issues. Back then, a third of their nursing staff were travel nurses, who work short-term positions at hospitals and clinics all across the U.S. And years down the road, doctors worry the crisis will get worse.
“Primary care is in a crisis between burnouts, retirement, aging workforce, competition with other medical specialties,” said Margaret Flinter with the Community Health Center, Inc.
We’re headed for a predicted shortage of almost 130-thousand physicians by 2030.”
And that’s not all, senators said according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, we’ll also need to hire at least 200-thousand nurses over the next five years to meet the increased need.
“If we’re going to make a dent in these daunting estimates, we need to get started now,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D- CO).
Senators are taking a hard look at how to retain and train people to meet the healthcare workforce demand. Some suggest improving workforce conditions to prevent burnout. Others suggest encouraging kids at a younger age to pursue a career in healthcare could be start.
“We got to make sure we are coming up with good ideas and not just spending money on the problem,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R- IN),
But some say additional funds could help, especially in building a more diverse workforce.
“We need to double the Pell grant,” said Reynold Verrett with Xavier University of Louisiana. “Embracing the only national program for low-income students that helps people achieve education would serve the nation and ease the path to these professions.”
Some members said vaccine mandates also pose a threat to the workforce shortage, however the data is unclear how many have quit because of the vaccine requirements in the healthcare industry. In December, the CDC said collecting data from 40 percent of hospitals across the U.S., more than 77 percent of healthcare workers are vaccinated.