Ky. health care industry facing ‘unsustainable level of staffing shortages’
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The health care industry is dealing with what they’re calling an unsustainable level of staffing shortages.
The Kentucky Hospital Association says there are more than 13,000 vacancies across the state, with half of those being nursing positions.
“One of the biggest areas of concern is that 53% of the vacancies are in medical-surgical units critical care units and emergency room,” Nancy Galvagni, Kentucky Hospital Association president & CEO.
Galvani says those vacancies have combined with a massive growth in labor costs.
“Spending on travel nurses has grown exponentially from $88 million in 2019 to nearly $1 billion projected this year,” Galvani said.
Creating what she calls an unsustainable situation. She says other states have seen hospitals limit their services or close altogether and they are trying to avoid that in Kentucky.
“The long-term solution is we have to train and educate and build a health care workforce,” Galvani said.
Galvagni says many left the field because of burnout from the pandemic. So, they’re working with high schools and the council on post-secondary education to encourage more enrollment in healthcare fields.
“It’s on us to create additional exciting opportunities and bring in more people. because overall, as a physician I can tell you, on your worst day, you get to help people,” said Mark Newman, Executive VP of Health Affairs at UK HealthCare.
Galvagni says they are looking at ways to make the job more attractive now such as adjusting the hours and shifts the workers have to put in so they can bring back some of those former professionals and bring in some of the new recruits from colleges and universities.
Newman says they are still struggling with capacity issues and it’s not just because of COVID anymore. He says many people who have ailments delayed their care during the pandemic and are suffering more severe sickness.
The study also found there has been a 10% increase in the average length of a hospital stay.
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