“Rural hospitals, already struggling with financial strains due to Covid-19, face an even more significant threat, experts said – the workforce shortage,” Liz Carey reports for The Daily Yonder
. “Hospitals say they are short on workers in all areas of the healthcare system, not just the clinical ones. According to
the American Hospital Association
, about 20 percent of all hospitals across the country expect worker shortages to reach dire levels.”
In 2021, nearly 105,000 nurses in the U.S. left hospitals for one reason or another, including death and retirement; that was the largest drop in the nation’s nursing workforce in history, according to Julia Harris, a senior policy analyst with the Bipartisan Policy Center. The pandemic “has really stressed the workforce in ways that we’re not going to recover from for decades,” she told Carey.
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
, U.S. health care organizations will need to fill nearly 200,000 nursing positions every year from now until 2030,” Carey reports. “Some studies even project that the country will face a shortage of more than 29,000 nurse practitioners by 2025.”
Harris noted that workforce is the number one expense for most cash-strapped rural hospitals, and that those expenses have been even higher during the pandemic because rural hospitals are obliged to use travel nurses
, who are typically paid at least twice as much as staff nurses, Carey reports.
Federal pandemic aid has helped rural hospitals afford travel nurses, but with Covid aid drying up, hospitals are increasingly on the hook for those expenses, Carey reports. And hospitals need the help, because they’re still getting plenty of Covid patients. Hospitals saw an average of 3,628 Covid-related hospitalizations as of May 28, 2022. On the same date in 2021, it was 3,060, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“The AHA is asking Congress for $1.51 billion to fund healthcare workforce development programs for the 2023 fiscal year’s budget, including $374 million for rural health programs,” Carey reports. “The request represents an increase of $43 million over levels approved in 2022.”