The Daily Press

Nursing home wait list tops 2,000

- By Anthony Hennen The Center Square

(The Center Square) – A new report finds staffing shortages force nursing homes to turn away patients, leaving beds empty and transferri­ng the costs of medical care onto a strapped EMS system. The numbers from the Pennsylvan­ia Health Care Associatio­n's analysis are stark. Of 69 nursing facilities surveyed, 52% said “they are limiting admissions in some way because they do not have enough staff to care for more residents.” Over a threemonth period, facilities averaged 17 admission denials because of staff limitation­s. Pennsylvan­ia has almost 700 nursing home facilities, and 2,000 people are on a waiting list for a bed. Though many facilities have space, they don't have workers. “Nearly a quarter of the respondent­s said they have between 2140% of their beds available but unable to be used because of staffing limitation­s,” the report noted. Some of the staffing struggle have been a hangover from the pandemic. Statewide, nursing facilities have lost 30,000 workers since 2020, as The Center Square previously reported. Other areas of health care employment have rebounded, but the lower pay for nursing assistants and home health aides has hampered the industry's recovery. The average wage for a full-time certified nurse aide in a nursing home is $17.26, according to the PCHA report. But a contracted CNA can earn almost $35, which draws more CNAs to contract rather than full-time work. As nursing homes turn to agencies to fill their positions, their costs climb. “It is clear our access to care crisis will not go away until our workforce crisis is first addressed,” Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the associatio­n, said in a press release. “At the same time providers are facing historic workforce shortages, our aging population is rapidly increasing, with the number of Pennsylvan­ia adults 85 and older expected to nearly double between now and 2040.”

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