Florida hospitals and nursing homes are turning toward educational resources to help mitigate the ongoing acute nursing shortage that medical facilities are facing, focusing on acquiring, training, and acclimating new members of the labor force to a hospital setting.
Speaking through a panel during the second day of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Fly-In event, Florida Hospital Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs David Mica Jr., Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida CEO Justin Senior, and Florida Health Care Association Executive Director Emmett Reed all voiced their concerns regarding the turnover rate of their facilities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for nurses in Florida is expected to grow by 21 percent, while 40 percent of nurses will approach retirement age in the next decade. The report also noted that stressful working conditions caused by the pandemic were also creating an increase in turnover.
“Florida Hospital Association (FHA) did a survey of our membership as we progressed through 2021 at the beginning of the Delta surge,” said Mica Jr. “We found a turnover rate in our existing workforce of 25 percent for Registered Nurses (RNs). Even more alarming was the turnover of over a third of our critical care unit.”
FHA also projects a deficit of 59,100 nurses in Florida by 2035.
The Omicron COVID-19 variant has only exacerbated the staffing shortages across Florida, leading one south Florida hospital to temporarily shutter its maternity unit after the virus rendered its staff without workers. Amid these shortages, the trio of administrators sounded their support of legislative proposals that would further fund their ventures in supporting the state’s education track to the medical field.
“Florida is a quickly growing state, specifically in the 65+ demographic, creating a need for additional nurses and care providers,” Senior said. “Workforce is a key issue for us, and this may be strange for a hospital to say, but we need to start looking at that education pipeline. The more teachers we can get in rooms educating, the better we can meet that demand we know is coming. So it’s hospitals focusing on education and our state university and state college systems and supporting that workforce to make it a little easier for that CNA to become an RNA without having to quit her job at the nursing home to continue her education.”
The medical facilities are also seeking additional government funding from both the state and federal levels in order to help subsidize their costs. Nursing homes are in particularly dire straits, as regulatory standards put in place prevent centers from raising the cost of services to offset financial losses.
“These aren’t the old nursing homes from a generation ago. We’re a step different now and provide much more medical care than ‘old person homes’ did in the past. These services are expensive, and the shortage of workers makes that issue much, much harder. It is code red in nursing homes.” said Reed.
As Omicron cases appear to be dwindling across the state and nation, the trio of executives hopes that patient load management will reach an equilibrium, helping to reduce the level of turnover that medical facilities are plagued with.
Florida’s largest health providers will work to receive legislative assistance during the 2022 Legislative Session, honing in on funding and systematic medical education improvements.