A snapshot of healthcare staffing challenges in 3 states

Amid the emergence of the omicron variant, hospitals and health systems continue to battle staffing challenges.

Here is a snapshot of staffing challenges in three states. 

Michigan

Michigan health systems are struggling with shrinking workforces, but some say the staffing issues are primarily caused by factors outside of COVID-19 vaccination mandates, MLive reported. Organizations cite increased demand for care, a greater number of sicker patients, an aging workforce and workers leaving the field as factors contributing to staffing strain.

"You think about nurses, for example, who have left the field in the last couple of years, these are folks who were very close to retirement and maybe the pandemic forced them to make a decision for themselves," Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, told MLive. "[They've said] 'I think I'm going to leave at this point rather than work another two or three years.' And remember that the pressure is already starting to be seen in terms of the aging population creating more demand for healthcare services."

Overall, many healthcare facilities have vacancy rates of 20 percent or higher, according to the hospital association.

New York

New York hospitals are facing staffing challenges amid capacity strain, according to Spectrum News 1.

In response to these challenges, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 26 announced her plan to boost hospital capacity and address staffing shortages. 

The plan, in part, authorizes the state to limit nonessential, nonurgent hospital procedures in hospitals with limited capacity, according to a news release from the governor's office. 

Ms. Hochul's office said the new provisions will start Dec, 3, and the state will reassess the new protocols based on the latest COVID-19 data Jan. 15.

Over the last two weeks, New York has experienced a 34 percent increase in new daily COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to data tracked by The New York Times and last updated Dec. 2. 

Colorado 

Staffing challenges at Colorado nursing homes are delaying transfers out of hospitals, according to NBC affiliate 9 News

On Dec. 1, the news station reported state estimates showing more than 300 people awaiting transfer out of a hospital and into a nursing home or care facility. 

Doug Farmer, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Care Association, told 9 News, "There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 vacant [nursing home] beds in the state of Colorado right now. You have people right now sitting in Colorado hospitals that should be in long-term care centers that can't go there because there aren't workers to care for them."

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