Expiration of COVID waivers could exacerbate health worker shortages in Pennsylvania

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Staffing shortages in healthcare are a national problem, with difficult working conditions, burnout and a highly competitive market fueling the problem.

“If you look at almost any hospital in Pennsylvania, there are many, many, many job postings for these positions,” said Warren Kampf, senior vice president of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. . “Hospitals pay retention premiums, pay premiums to sign and they can’t fulfill them. “

COVID-19 infection rates have increased nationwide, and although Pennsylvania has one of the lowest per capita case rates in the country, infections here are also increasing.

Pennsylvania on Friday recorded more than 4,500 new cases of coronavirus, an unprecedented daily tally since the spring. Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with 1,926 patients bedridden on Friday and 236 on ventilators.

Patients who have postponed care are returning to hospital, flu season begins and emergency rooms fill with patients as public activity resumes, Kampf said. Staffing was difficult even with the waivers.

“With nurses, doctors, [physician assistants], everyone in the hospital is working like crazy under intense pressure, there are a lot of shortages there, ”he said. “You put it all together and it’s very difficult to use. “

When lawmakers return to Harrisburg this month, health care advocates hope there will be swift action to make some of the waivers permanent, including one that allows doctors to use telemedicine. The State House Committee on Aging and Seniors’ Services will hold a hearing Monday to discuss how the lapsed waivers affect older Pennsylvanians.

Most importantly, those who spoke to Spotlight PA said permanent solutions are needed to ensure nurses, doctors and frontline healthcare workers can stay in their jobs.

“The nursing shortage is probably the biggest thing,” Snook said. “No matter how many beds we have, if we don’t have nurses, patients will die.


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