FHCA Updates House Committee on Worsening Workforce Challenges in Long Term Care
While Florida’s nursing centers have recently seen steep declines in COVID-19 cases among residents, those care centers are facing significantly worsening workforce challenges and financial burdens, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) told members of the Florida House Health and Human Services Committee today.
Tracy Greene, chief operating officer of Southern Healthcare Management which operates 29 Florida centers and cares for nearly 3,000 residents and chair of FHCA’s Emergency Preparedness Committee, told lawmakers that nursing centers’ use of costly employment agencies to cover gaps in staffing is up by 250% over the past year. Many centers have experienced unsustainable cost increases as staffing agencies seek to take advantage of the long term care labor crisis, Greene testified.
Almost one-third of the nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) at some centers are staffed by agencies, creating extensive unforeseen costs. Greene said Southern Healthcare Management alone has been forced to spend almost $2 million per month for nurses and CNAs provided by staffing agencies.
Staffing challenges have also forced nursing centers to limit the number of new patients they can care for, further exacerbating financial problems by constraining revenues and limiting Florida seniors’ options for care. Greene noted that Southern Healthcare centers have 8% fewer residents they’re caring for and 15% fewer staff since prior to the pandemic. A July member survey conducted by FHCA reported that more than half (52%) of nursing centers have been forced to reduce admissions due to staffing challenges.
“The consequences of letting this crisis go unresolved are significant. Whether from the hospital or from the community, facilities are limiting the individuals they can admit. Veterans are being wait-listed for services and families must travel farther to visit their loved ones because the local nursing center can no longer take them in,” said Greene. “It’s ultimately blocking access to critical health care that members of Florida’s elderly population desperately need.”
Statewide, nursing centers’ costs have increased by almost $42 per patient day compared with the pre-pandemic time period – a $660 million cost increase to facilities statewide. Greene testified that labor is the primary driver for these increases and that the economic impact is having a negative effect on the industry.
“Our state’s aging population is only growing. I worry about the future of long term care if we can’t rebuild our workforce and recover financially from the impacts of the pandemic,” Greene said.
ABOUT THE FLORIDA HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION
The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation that serves nearly 1,000 members and represents more than 500 long-term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, post-acute and subacute care, short-term rehab, assisted living, and other services to the elderly and individuals with disabilities in Florida. The mission of FHCA is to advance the quality of services, image, professional development, and financial stability of its members. As Florida’s first and largest advocacy organization for long-term care providers and the elderly they serve, the Association has worked diligently since 1954 to assist its members with continuously improving quality of care and quality of life for the state’s growing elder care population. For more information about the Florida Health Care Association, visit http://www.fhca.org.