News & Publications: Press Releases
Health Care Workforce Coalition Proposes Solutions to Staffing Crisis
~ Health care industry leaders detail challenges, necessary steps to respond to Florida’s significant workforce challenges ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida can emerge from its ongoing health care workforce crisis by providing financial assistance for potential and current caregivers, developing training and education opportunities, and streamlining pathways for professionals to build careers in health care. Those are among the key recommendations issued today by a coalition of care-providing professions working tirelessly to serve the public amid the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the double-edged workforce and financial crises, which continue to threaten Florida's nursing homes and the residents entrusted to their care,” said Emmett Reed, CEO of Florida Health Care Association. “Across all aspects of health care – from nursing homes to hospitals, and from assisted living to home care – the State of Florida must take a forward-thinking approach to invest in our health care heroes and develop long-term solutions to help them recruit more caregivers so no resident is left without the care they need.”
During a roundtable discussion of the issue, the Health Care Workforce Coalition issued a 9-page analysis of the labor crisis within the health care sector, assessing the root causes of the crisis and proposing almost two dozen strategies to address the challenges, including policy, legislative, and budget priority measures.
The strategies identified in the report include enhanced financial assistance to incentivize caregivers, measures to educate and train a future workforce, regulatory solutions to improve person-centered care, and steps to track and plan for future workforce needs. Among the specific proposals are:
- Ensuring that Medicaid funding for nursing homes, home health, and home care keeps pace with the cost of care, so providers have sufficient resources to offer competitive wages to support worker recruitment and retention efforts.
- Providing the resources for incentives and support for nurse education programs, including strategies to train more nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, including retain nursing faculty and ensuring that targeted investments are made in the greatest areas of physician shortage.
- Conducting an in-depth investigation into the practices and excessive costs of staffing agencies to protect health care providers and taxpayers.
- Utilizing state agencies – including the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Health, the Board of Nursing, and the Department of Education – to build a system to track nursing workforce surplus/shortage data and evaluate program-specific data for approved and accredited nursing programs.
“No hospital can function without the tireless work of our professional, dedicated, and heroic staff,” said Mary C. Mayhew, President and CEO of the Florida Hospital Association. “The doctors and nurses we need in 2035 entered kindergarten this fall. So, as Florida addresses the critical workforce shortfalls today, we must also ensure that the classroom seats, clinical training sites, and faculty are sufficient to meet our staffing needs in the years to come.”
Added Justin Senior, CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida: “The COVID-19 pandemic exposed how critical our hospitals, nurses, and staff truly are to the well-being of our communities. Now more than ever, we must strengthen our hospital workforce and send nurses the backup they need on the front lines. We must continue to work with other hospitals and Florida health care providers to bridge this workforce gap in order to protect the excellence of our health care services for patients.”
A recent Florida Hospital Association report projected that by 2035, Florida will have a shortage of 59,100 nurses – including 37,400 registered nurses and 21,700 licensed practical nurses. Similarly, a recent member survey conducted by FHCA found that 92% of the association’s members are facing staffing challenges and the overall workforce situation at almost 9 in 10 (88%) of its members’ facilities has worsened since 2020. Home health agencies are having similar staffing challenges, resulting in home health and home care agencies turning patients away and developing waiting lists. The nursing workforce shortage, which has led to a dramatic hike in the fees charged by outside staffing agencies, is being felt across the board.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic did not create the current health care workforce shortage crisis, it merely magnified the challenges that providers across the care continuum face with attracting and retaining clinicians and caregivers. The $15 minimum wage increase and outdated reimbursement rates in the Medicaid program further intensify the situation,” said Bobby Lolley, RN, executive director of the Home Care Association of Florida. “The Florida home care community stands ready to work with policymakers to develop solutions that will cultivate front-line direct care workers who will serve our aging population and protect access to in-home care.”
The Coalition report notes that the workforce crisis is the “direct and unavoidable result” of a number of converging trends, including:
- Florida’s aging and growing Baby Boomer population;
- Dwindling ranks of current and future nursing professionals and home care aides to care for those aging Baby Boomers;
- An insufficient number of educators prepared to teach those who do wish to enter the nursing profession; and
- A lack of adequate Medicaid funding to give facilities and home care organizations the means to offer competitive wages.
- Low wages and the public’s perception of the undervalued occupation of professional caregiving hinder recruitment efforts.
“The long-term care workforce shortage is a complex, multifaceted crisis that is going to require an equally complex set of solutions,” said LeadingAge Florida President & CEO Steve Bahmer. “Florida has the best there is to offer in senior living services, but without decisive action the instability in the long-term care workforce will have negative impacts on access to care, quality of care, and quality of life for our state’s most vulnerable population.”
Added Veronica Catoe, CEO of the Florida Assisted Living Association: “Maintaining appropriate staffing in residential facilities, such as assisted living and adult family care homes, is not only a requirement, it is essential to providing exceptional care and maintaining a safe work environment for employees. If the staffing crisis continues, it will force many facilities to close their doors, causing a massive deficit in the Florida senior living continuum of care. Personal and health-related service careers deserve increased recognition, respect, and wages in our society to attract more individuals to this field of putting others’ needs first.”
Gail Matillo, President and CEO of the Florida Senior Living Association, which represents professionally managed independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities, noted, “Senior living is a significant contributor to Florida’s economy, but without the necessary staffing to provide safe and comfortable living experiences, we’re facing a crisis not just in terms of limited access to care but also in terms of a major blow to our economy. Florida cannot afford to let this situation get any worse.”
To view the Health Care Workforce Coalition report, An Analysis of the Long-Term Care Labor Crisis and the Strategies Needed to Recruit & Retain the Workforce to Meet Florida’s Needs, please visit www.fhca.org/advocacy/ltclaborcrisis_solutions. For a recording of the roundtable discussion, please contact FHCA.
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ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE COALITION
The Health Care Workforce Coalition is an alliance of leaders from various health care industries, including long-term care, hospitals, and home health care, focused on addressing the ongoing health care workforce challenges that threaten Floridians’ access to needed care. Coalition members include representatives from the Florida Health Care Association, LeadingAge Florida, Florida Assisted Living Association, Florida Senior Living Association, Florida Hospital Association, Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, Florida Chapter of the Home Care Association of America, Florida Home Care Association and the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2021
Kristen Knapp, APR
(850) 510-4389 or email@example.com