New York has 9,000+ nurse job openings; healthcare leaders urge state action

Upstate New York healthcare leaders and lawmakers are urging state legislative action to address staffing shortages that they say have become a crisis, the Times Union reported Dec. 7. 

The call to action came during a news conference attended by Iroquois Healthcare Alliance President and CEO Gary Fitzgerald; Dennis McKenna, MD, CEO of the Albany Med Health System; John McDonald and Patricia Fahy, members of the New York State Assembly; and other upstate New York assembly members.

During the news conference, the group advocated for several bills, while pointing to the 9,300 job openings for nurses in New York, according to the Times Union.

A joint news release shared with Becker's states that IHA — which serves more than 50 upstate New York hospitals and health systems — is calling for permanent funding for upstate and rural staff recruitment and retention programs, investment into educational/vocational pipeline programs, and a boost in financial relief directed to upstate teaching and rural hospitals. 

The IHA also cited a survey of its members that shows 88 percent of respondents have a negative or razor thin operating margin. Group representatives attribute the negative margins to the existing cost structure hospitals face, staffing agency rates and other factors. 

"Communities cannot thrive without a functioning healthcare system," Mr. Fitzgerald said in the IHA news release. “Investing in upstate healthcare workforce recruitment, retention and pipeline programs is imperative to the preservation of care, improved health outcomes and economic vitality of upstate. IHA is pleased to share with its members' legislative representatives its innovative approach to improve and stabilize upstate healthcare, for the continued health and future of our communities."

According to the Times Tribune, upstate New York healthcare leaders and lawmakers at the news conference support a proposed bill that allows at least one-third of required clinical training for nurses and nurse practitioners to be completed via simulation experience. They also support regulation of nurse staffing agencies.

The newspaper reported that upstate New York healthcare leaders and lawmakers are also asking New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to expand her Nurses for Our Future scholarship program, which the state announced in November 2021. In April, the state also announced a $20 billion investment in the healthcare industry.

The Dec. 7 news conference took place ahead of the legislative session that begins in January.


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