A shortage of healthcare workers has impacted hospitals for several years and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the shortage, making an expected shortage of healthcare workers happen sooner and to a much worse degree.
For many healthcare facilities, vacancy rates have approached 20% or more of their workforce. Numerous long-term care locations have temporarily reduced the number of available beds due to a lack of staff. Others are recruiting employees from outside the United States. Some hospitals must regularly divert ambulances away from their emergency departments, which delays emergent care, especially in Michigan’s many rural areas.
Michigan healthcare facilities must remain prepared for and responsive to patients suffering from COVID-19, as well as the number of patients who are now in need of urgent and life-saving care from non-COVID conditions. Currently, Michigan hospitals have reached new record-high occupancy rates, requiring staff scheduling and capacity adjustments several times daily to preserve patient care standards. Patients experience delays of sometimes several days waiting for transport between a hospital and a nursing home, inpatient psychiatric hospital, or rehabilitation facility due to the shortage of qualified paramedics. Long-term care facilities are also significantly impacted by the staffing shortages, limiting the number of patients per facility.
Healthcare workforce staffing shortages are expected to persist beyond the pandemic. Michigan must address both the short- and the long-term workforce crisis that is driving this problem before it forces even more difficult healthcare decisions.
Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance
The Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance is comprised of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA), Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM), Michigan Association of Ambulance Services (MAAS), Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MCMCFC), Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA), American Nurses Association of Michigan (ANA-MI) and the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS). The Alliance is advocating for a $650 million investment to support staffing needs in hospitals, nursing facilities, and emergency medical services and workforce training programs to grow the healthcare talent pipeline.
The Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 5523 Dec. 14, a COVID-19 supplemental funding bill that allocates $1.2 billion in federal funds for COVID-19 relief, including $300 million for recruitment and retention bonuses for healthcare settings. The funds would be allocated to employers to utilize at their discretion; however, employers would be prohibited from using vaccination status to determine which employees can receive the funds.
Members are urged to contact their state senators before Jan. 10 to request they immediately appropriate this funding upon their return from the holiday break.
Read the latest news coverage from the MHA on workforce sustainability efforts.
MHA CEO Brian Peters issued a statement on House Bill 5523 that appropriates vital funding for healthcare staffing support.