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Staffing shortages causing nursing homes to freeze admissions

Nursing home
Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 19:13:21-05

CLEVELAND — Staffing shortages across health care facilities are now causing nursing homes to freeze admissions.

As some parts of the state are seeing a ray of light in the fight against COVID-19, others are dealing with the same battles.

“Just yesterday, we had our second highest day for hospital admissions on record. So despite some encouraging signs, our hospitals remain strained and hospitalizations are still rising in southern and western Ohio,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

What makes the fight even harder is not having enough health workers.

"It’s not only the cases that have skyrocketed, but also the staffing shortages that have really strained the systems,” said Dr. Alice Kim with the Cleveland Clinic.

Those shortages aren't just in the hospital, but also in skilled nursing homes, where hospitals will send patients for continued care. Pete Van Runkle with the Ohio Health Care Association told News 5 right now there are 4,000 long-term health care workers out due to COVID. That’s on top of the list of staff members who quit.

“Then when COVID hit, we had just a lot of people who left the profession because [they] collect unemployment, because they were tired of being beaten up,” said Van Runkle.

Which, in the end, causes a facility like Welcome Nursing Home in Oberlin to put a freeze on their admissions.

“It's not something we like to do, but certainly if we feel that we're at a capacity that our staffing can manage and go over that would put anybody at risk,” said Jill Herron with Welcome Nursing Home.

That freeze also halts hospitals' abilities to transition patients from the ER or ICU to another care facility, holding up hospital beds.

“The next person who comes along and has COVID or something else and needs a hospital bed, they may not be able to get in, they may have to go to be diverted to another hospital,” said Herron.

For Welcome Nursing home, they know their role but can't take more than their already shortened staff can bear.

“We recognize that we're a partner in the whole healthcare system and...any resident that we can take from a hospital leaves an open bed for a new patient in the hospital environment. So we take that very seriously and we want to be good partners with our hospital affiliates. We don't want to do anything that would that we wouldn't be able to manage,” Herron said.

Right now they are managing with more than 12 staff openings.

“Some people come and work just four-hour shifts because that's what works in their in their whole life, and we're doing creative staffing that we've never done before,” said Herron.

Admissions are back up, but Herron said they will close again if they feel they don’t have the staff to care for their residents properly.

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