Nursing homes want ‘more long-term solutions’ when it comes to staffing crisis

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local nursing homes are calling on Governor Kathy Hochul for more ‘long-term solutions’ when it comes to staffing and recruitment.

Just a few weeks ago, 26 members of the National Guard were deployed to our region to assist with staffing shortages amid the pandemic. Some area nursing homes say it won’t be enough.

“We’ve been in a crisis for years and the pandemic just put that on steroids,” said Glen Cooper, President and CEO of Friendly Home in Brighton.

Cooper says they have 40 less residents than pre-pandemic times because there isn’t enough staff.

He, along with several other nursing homes are asking the state for more long-term solutions in a letter: an increase in medicaid reimbursement, and investment in training.

The letter, saying ‘ballooning costs of COVID-19’ have made their situation, much worse.

“The reimbursement has gone up zero percent in the last 15 years but expenses have gone up, you don’t have the money to invest in career ladder for individuals,” said Cooper.

The National Guard members deployed to our region will be assisting in aide duties, like washing and bathing. But Cooper says the area in most desperate need of help is nursing.

Officials say the goal is to help nursing homes take on patients who are bottlenecked in hospitals. And in turn, freeing up space in hospitals.

In a briefing Tuesday morning, Governor Hochul says the game plan is working so far – even if it takes time.

“Overall beds are up one percent but that’s to stem the downward trajectory that was very concerning,” she said. “Not where we want to be but again, at least not heading downward anymore.”

Cooper says there’s no response yet from the governor on their letter; also signed by other local homes like Jewish Senior Life.

In the meantime, he’s begging anyone with interest in nursing or elder care to join the industry.

“So that we can take care of our elderly as they’ve taken care of us,” said Cooper.

News 9 has also reached out to the governor’s office for comment, and received the following response:

“As part of New York State’s nursing home reform act, $128 million was appropriated in the FY22 Budget to support staffing costs in nursing homes.  Also beginning on January 1, 2022, every residential health care facility must spend a minimum of seventy percent of revenue on direct resident care and forty percent of revenue shall be spent on resident-facing staffing. Every nursing home must also maintain daily average staffing hours equal to 3.5 hours of care per resident per day by a certified nurse aide, a licensed nurse or a nurse aid, with no less than 2.2 hours of care per resident per day provided by a certified nurse aide or a nurse aide, and no less than 1.1 hours of care per resident per day provided by a licensed nurse.”

The state spokesperson says the DOH is reviewing the letter.

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