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Nursing homes face staffing shortages, financial problems as they serve growing need

Nursing homes facing financial problems, closures
Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 18:35:07-04

Nursing homes in the U.S. are facing a lot of challenges -- from staff shortages, to finances, and a lack of available beds.

“We’re like 64 beds filled up out of 68, that’s really awesome but we are struggling with nurses and CNAs. There's lots of turn over,” Dpace, a worker at The Estates at Bloomington, said.

The Estates at Bloomington is a skilled nursing facility, providing care for those in the surrounding community.

Like many nursing homes, they are facing staffing shortages and not enough beds for those who need them.

“We have a workforce crisis we’ve never seen before,” Patti Cullen, president and CEO of nonprofit Care Providers of Minnesota, said. “These days and times it’s very difficult to find an open bed because it’s based on staff availability and we are short staffed in most of our buildings.”

“The demographics show there's going to be a lot of seniors, but it also shows a decrease in the number of workers available for everyone,” she said.

On top of shortages, the elderly population is growing.

“The fastest-growing segment of the population are people over 65 years old, and a very growing part of the population are people over 75,” Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said. "They represent almost 75% of nursing homes in the U.S.

Parkinson said some nursing homes have been forced to stop admissions.

“We have some parts of the country...where we’re having a hard time finding enough staff to take care of all the people we want to take care of, and so in some parts of the country we’ve actually had to stop admissions,” he said.

Some have had to shut their doors.

“We’ve seen about 100 closures of buildings in 2020, we’re at about 75 closures so far in 2021,” Parkinson said.

“COVID has been very taxing,” Tom Syverson, director of government relations for Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society, said. They operate in 22 states.

“It’s very humbling as I go out to our locations and see the staff and what they’re doing day in and day out to provide that care,” Syverson said. “My greatest fear is that we’re going to have areas of the country where we are not going to have facilities in the future.”

Cullen and Parkinson say without federal funding, things could get worse.

“If there are no additional federal funds in the next few months, I think there will be hundreds of buildings that will close,” Parkinson said.

“We believe that right now we’re at that tipping point. They got federal provider relief funds, that ended. They got the PPP loans, that ended. So they’re spending money and they spent all the reserves, so now is the time where we’re going to see more closures on an accelerated basis than we have in the past,” Cullen said.

The good news is, Parkinson said a little help could go a long way for an industry that was once a main concern during the pandemic.

“We have the infrastructure built for a really good system. With just a little more attention we can really provide older people the care and dignity that they need in the final years of their life,” Parkinson said.