Missouri, Kansas hospital leaders fear a 'healthcare crisis' is coming

As flocks of nurses are leaving hospitals and health systems struggle to return to normal bed space, some healthcare executives in the Midwest worry they aren't prepared for the fall and winter.

Recent data isn't lining up with seasonal trends, according to Richard Watson, MD, a co-founder of an app that tracks Kansas hospital transfers. 

"These are not COVID beds that we're needing right now," Dr. Watson told KCUR. "We need beds across the board. The system is already at a higher level of capacity than it was even last year as we went into this time period. Without a doubt, even without any of the other surges, we're going into the fall in a precarious position."

So far in 2022, healthcare turnover reached an all-time high at 24.7 percent, according to the Missouri Hospital Association. In Kansas, the healthcare worker turnover rate was 19 percent and the vacancy rate was 16 percent, the Kansas Hospital Association reported in January. 

The shortage of space at Wichita, Kan.-based Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph resulted in more violence against its employees, the hospital's president told the Kansas Reflector.

"It is not so much a COVID crisis as it is a healthcare crisis," Steven Stites, MD, chief medical officer of the University of Kansas Health System, told KCUR. "Many hospitals are going to be faced with financial shortfalls and may close. We're at a little bit of a precarious tipping point right now in healthcare."

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