Report: More than 3,000 nursing homes facing staff shortages

Thousands of nursing homes are still facing staff shortages nearly a year into the pandemic, according to a new watchdog report.

The report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund said, “More than 3,000 U.S. nursing homes last month had a shortage of nurses or other direct-care staff, and it’s a crippling problem that has existed since last May. For most of last year, more than 200,000 people at any given time were in nursing homes that themselves acknowledged they were suffering from staff shortages.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, nursing homes have been among the hardest hit.

Many have faced COVID-19 outbreaks among staff and residents, shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 tests, and shortages of nurses, aides, and other clinical staff.

“It’s just like this carousel of catastrophe and then ultimately patient care does suffer,” said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog for U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

The report said: “By early December, 23 percent of homes reported a shortage of at least one category of direct-care staff.”

“We really need to get some emergency funding for staffing,” Murray said. “To hire more staff, to pay hazard pay.”

Murray said more money is also needed for more PPE, as many facilities are still reporting PPE shortages.

The report said while the arrival of vaccines is promising, more help is needed for our nursing homes now.

“We really just need to put a bigger priority on our senior citizens and our other vulnerable citizens,” Murray said.

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