Throughout the pandemic, long-term care facilities have struggled to find staff. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), which represents more than 14,000 long-term care providers, now calls the workforce shortage "a legitimate crisis."
The problem is a nuanced one: Workers have left an industry that was hit hard by COVID-19 cases and deaths during the pandemic, seeking out higher paying and potentially less dangerous jobs. And employers have struggled to remain operational as volumes fell and costs rose, strapped by what they characterize as inadequate Medicaid reimbursement rates. Nursing homes lost nearly 19,000 jobs in April, the biggest loss in the healthcare sector, according to figures from the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
AHCA/NCAL estimates that, without additional funding, more than 1,600 skilled nursing facilities could close in 2021. Some already have.
News reports are cropping up about nursing homes, assisted living sites and hospice programs shutting their doors.
Graceway at Countryside, a nursing home in South Haven, Mich., recently closed over staffing concerns and was transferring residents to other facilities, according to WWMT, a Kalamazoo-based TV station.
Elsewhere in the state, William Crispe Community Home, an assisted living facility in Plainwell, announced it planned to close June 11 over a worker shortage and financial struggles. An employee at the site refused to be interviewed Thursday.
In La Grande, Oregon, the Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics plans to close its hospice program this month and is in the process of finding alternate caregivers for its patients, according to a news release.
"Our community is not exempt from the serious national shortage on healthcare workers. Over the past year, it has become increasingly difficult to find nursing staff to support our hospice program," said Grande Ronde President and CEO Jeremy Davis.
Director of Home Care Services Selina Shaffer said the recommendation to close was not one "made lightly."
"Over the past year, however, the fallout from COVID-19 has changed the workforce landscape, and we are no longer immune to that reality in Union County. At some point, we had to acknowledge that."