There is a nationwide nursing shortage affecting states around the country, including Texas. Over 3,000 assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the state are experienc-ing a shortage of nurses, according to the Texas Health Care Association (THCA). Fifty-five of those facilities are in East Texas. Although this isn’t a new problem, it is getting worse and experts are wanting lawmakers to find ways to help solve the problem.
Nurses are an important component to a wide range of hospitals and health care facili-ties. They provide care, improve patient outcomes, and even save lives. Without enough nurses in Texas, the public will start seeing the effects, which aren’t good. When there aren’t enough nurses in a facility it means they are overworked and often left taking care of too many people.
This scenario can lead to improper care of the patient resulting in negative patient outcomes, including death. Essentially, the nursing shortage is taking lives. Currently there’s a turnover rate of 90 percent for long-term care facilities and that number climbs even higher when it comes to licensed vocational nurses and nursing as-sistants.
What Happened to All the Nurses?
There are several reasons for the shortage. Back in the 1990s, many nursing positions were cut due to managed care demands which drew back on private and public insur-ance reimbursement rates leaving hospitals in financial strain.
To counter the problem, many hospitals increased the workload of their nurses leaving nurses feeling burned out and stressed. Some felt they couldn’t fulfill the professional responsibilities they had to-wards their patients. By 2005, one-fifth of the registered nurses in the U.S. had left the profession.
Although colleges are adding nursing programs to meet the demand, they just aren’t put-ting out the amount of nurses needed to fill the gap. Many nursing programs are expen-sive and competitive and a lot of potential students who can’t afford school or who don’t make the cut end up going into other fields. There are also greater demands for nurses due to the aging population of the baby boomers generation.
Legislative Suggestions from Texas Health Care Association
The THCA is recommending several legislative actions. These include: supplementing reimbursements for nursing homes without state funding via the Nursing Facility Rein-vestment Allowance, managing the Medicaid bed capacity by providing stability to all of the state’s long term care facilities, allowing people to choose where to get their care in-stead of relying on insurance companies or actuaries to choose, defending State Bill 7 protections, by preserving tort form protections, and working harder to recruit more nurs-ing candidates for Texas.
Although the THCA is trying to address many problems through legislation, more is needed to be done and quickly. The problem is continuing to get worse with no end in the near future. It remains to be seen what polices and answers legislators will have that will impact the future of the shortage of nurse’s situation that is impacting Texas.