According to the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), long term care facilities are suffering from the worst labor crisis of any health care sector.
AHCA/NCAL released a report showing substantial job losses across several health sectors, like hospitals and home health care services, but the worst can be seen among nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
According to the latest October employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 220,000 jobs were lost during the pandemic in nursing homes alone. That equates to an estimated 14% reduction in the sector’s workforce from March 2020 to October 2021.
Meanwhile, doctor’s offices and outpatient care centers have seen an increase in their workforce since the pandemic began. The report shows that both sectors saw an increase of 22,000 jobs and 15,000 jobs respectively.
This latest report comes as nursing home facilities nationwide rush to vaccinate their staff ahead of a federal deadline. In August, the Biden administration announced a requirement for all nursing home staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 in order to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Officials with the Indiana Health Care Association said nursing home providers in Indiana have made significant efforts to increase staff vaccination rates among staff, but they fear the mandate will drive more staff away.
“As many caregivers are getting burned out by the pandemic, workers are leaving the field for jobs in other health care settings or other industries altogether,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “Chronic Medicaid underfunding, combined with the billions of dollars providers have spent to fight the pandemic, has left long term care providers struggling to compete for qualified staff. We desperately need the help of policymakers to attract and retain more caregivers, so that our nation’s most vulnerable have access to the long term care they need.”
In order to meet the January 4th deadline, staff at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities will need to begin their vaccination series on the following dates:
- Moderna: November 23
- Pfizer: November 30
- Johnson & Johnson: December 21