Week 55 Newsletter

04/20-04/26 Updates

Surge Capacity Issues

Workforce shortages at hospitals are leading to requests for the National Guard to deploy health care workers.

Congress is considering recapturing unused visas to incentivize foreign-born health care workers to practice in areas experiencing shortages.

The National Health Service Corps are increasing workforce deployment to health professional shortage areas in exchange for educational opportunities or loan repayment.

Surge Capacity Issues

(04/21/21) Oregon Hospital Rolls Out Emergency Plan With More Than 500 Workers on Leave in April
This article from Becker’s Hospital Review highlights the staffing concerns of Oregon State Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 500 health care workers have used sick, vacation, or other leave related to COVID-19 this month as of April 18, 2021. This accounts for 23% of the hospital’s total workforce. Employees have continuously expressed their concerns as working conditions have become dangerous. Employees are facing exhaustion and are continuously mandated to work long hours due to staffing shortages. Hospital officials are partnering with staff to employ emergency staffing solutions which includes requests for the deployment of health care workers from the National Guard.

(04/21/21) To Relieve Healthcare Workers Shortage, Congress Considers Recapturing Unused Visas
This article from The National Law Review highlights a bill recently reintroduced to the US Senate, the Health Workforce Resilience Act. This act seeks to recapture unused visas and remove caps based on country, for these visas among other efforts, in order to incentivize foreign-trained health care workers to practice in the US in areas experiencing shortages.

(04/09/21) In Rural Areas With Health Care Shortages, These Doctors Are Answering the Call
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health disparities and health professional shortages in rural communities. The National Health Service Corps has assisted with increasing the workforce by deploying providers to health facilities in health professional shortage areas in exchange for education or loan repayment.

Long-term Care

COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities are at an all-time low, with some states reporting as few as zero deaths since December 21, 2020.

Vaccination for long-term care staff in parts of New York remain low compared to the percentage of patients vaccinated, with vaccine hesitancy being a leading cause.

A recent study offers a new model for enhancing clinical management of patients found to reduce mortality rate in high-risk COVID-19 patients by 16%.

Advocates call for federal minimum staffing requirements for long-term care facilities.

Long-term Care

(04/22/21) COVID-19 Long-term Care Deaths and Cases Are at an All-Time Low, Though a Rise In LTC Cases in a Few States May Be Cause for Concern
This analysis conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that long-term care COVID-19 cases and mortality rates have significantly decreased since the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out. This study assessed state reported long term care facility data from 41 states and Washington D.C. to evaluate the trends in new COVID-19 cases and deaths since December 21, 2020. Of the states that KFF could statistically evaluate COVID-19 death rates, 21 states reported an all-time low and five states reported zero deaths. The analysis also found that COVID-19 death rates of all states in the analysis have declined by 89% since the start of vaccinations in December.

(04/22/21) Not Enough CNY Nursing Home Workers Get COVID-19 Shots; ‘We Are in a Race Against Time’
The New York State Health Department has reported that approximately 40% of nursing home workers in Central New York did not receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The state’s nursing home facilities have vaccinated approximately 87% of its patients but the low vaccination rates among staff is becoming a huge concern. Public health officials are worried that unvaccinated workers can trigger another COVID-19 outbreak in these facilities which has been reported in other states. The state has taken measures to increase the vaccination rates of nursing home staff but remains hesitant to push for vaccination mandates as this action may affect the supply of nursing home workers.

(04/15/21) Physicians Propose New Way to Manage a COVID Outbreak in Long-term Care Settings
This article from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News highlights a clinical research study conducted by doctors at the University of Chicago and the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston. The study assessed the clinical outcomes of high-risk COVID-19 patients in a 200-bed skilled nursing facility in Chicago. The researchers implemented an enhanced clinical management strategy that reduced the mortality rate of the facility by 16%. These findings suggest that other long-term care providers should adopt this model of care to better manage COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

(04/14/21) One Change That Could Help Nursing Homes Recover From COVID-19 Fears and Become Safer Places for Aging Parents
This opinion piece discusses the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursing home facilities. Nursing home residents accounted for nearly one third of COVID-19 deaths as facilities struggled to maintain staffing expectations. The federal minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes continues to be affected by a low supply of nursing home workers, high turnover rates, and low wages. The article suggests that increasing the wages for nursing home staff would subsequently increase the supply of nursing home workers.

Health Workforce Safety

The Food and Drug Administration has called for the end of reuse of N95 masks, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now believe adequate supply of these masks exists for single-use to resume.

COVID-19 pandemic-related burnout is contributing to new survey data reporting 3 in 10 providers are considering leaving health care.

A new study considers how health care workers become infected with COVID-19 and how some related safety guidelines have proved ineffective.

Health Workforce Safety

(04/23/21) FDA Says Health Care Workers Should Stop Reusing N95 Masks
Health professionals were previously directed to properly clean, recycle, and reuse N95 masks in efforts to combat the shortage of personal protective equipment early in the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration has since issued a statement that directs health care facilities and health care workers to transition back to the single use of N95 masks as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes there is now an adequate supply of N95 masks in the country. The recommendation is contingent on the assumption that facilities have access to and can confirm that they have a sufficient supply of N95 masks.

(04/22/21) Burned Out by the Pandemic, 3 in 10 Health-care Workers Consider Leaving the Profession
An article from The Washington Post covering issues with experienced health care providers leaving the profession as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related burnout and trauma. Recent surveys have found many providers have considered retiring from medical practice in the past 12 months, with dissatisfaction with the response to the pandemic being a major factor.

(04/13/21) Sources of Healthcare Workers’ COVID-19 Infections and Related Safety Guidelines
This cross-sectional prospective research study assessed the effectiveness of workplace safety guidelines among health care workers. The study analyzed work-related exposure to COVID-19 and the source of infection along with the use of personal protective equipment. The study concluded that there was a high infection rate among health care workers even while following safety guidelines.