'It happens all the time': UPMC, Allegheny Health Network see discharge delays from lack of space at nursing homes

Pittsburgh area hospitals are experiencing significant delays when discharging patients because of nursing home closures and a lack of staff at long-term care facilities, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Aug. 29. 

Systemwide, Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network discharges between 100 and 250 patients per day, officials told the news outlet. About 10 percent of those go to skilled nursing facilities. At some hospitals, discharge delays have lasted up to five days because the hospital was unable to find open nursing home beds for patients. 

"It happens all the time," Vicenta Gaspar-Yoo, MD, president of the system's Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, Pa., told the news outlet. "We have no choice but to keep the patients." 

Pittsburgh-based UPMC is experiencing the same challenges across a number of the 40 hospitals it operates. 

"Usually every day, we have patients who are good to go back to a nursing facility and they're here the next day," Susan Hoolahan, MSN, RN, president of UPMC Passavant, which includes two campuses in McCandless, Pa., and Cranberry, Pa.,  told the Post-Gazette. There are cases where patients with complex needs "just can't get placed" in a nursing facility, and have remained in the hospitals for months, she said.

High labor costs and other financial pressures have led to the closure of 17 skilled nursing facilities across Pennsylvania in the past two years, and staffing shortages have forced other facilities to leave beds empty. Hospitals have also reported having trouble scheduling an ambulance to transfer patients to other facilities due to staffing issues at ambulance services.

Click here to read the full report.  

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