Kentucky ER wait times tied to 'acute' worker shortage, study finds

As long ER wait times loom across the U.S., Kentucky is facing an "acute shortage" of healthcare workers, a Kentucky Hospital Association report shows. 

The association's "2023 Workforce Survey," released in October, revealed nearly 13,000 job vacancies across Kentucky hospitals by the end of 2022, resulting in longer wait times for people seeking treatment. 

Of the 13,000 available jobs, almost 5,000 were registered nurse vacancies, with another 300 licensed practical nurse openings. Laboratory, imaging and respiratory therapy roles were other key available positions needing to be filled. The report also found 8,000 job vacancies in urban area hospitals, a nearly 16% vacancy rate, and 2,736 in rural Kentucky, at nearly 14%.

"Our primary objectives are to expand Kentucky's healthcare workforce pipeline, remove barriers to healthcare education, retain the current healthcare workforce, and redesign models of care," Russell F. Cox, president and CEO of Louisville-based Norton Healthcare and chair of the KHA Workforce Committee, said in a release

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