Effects of Texas’ nursing home workforce crisis reported

The workforce crisis in Texas nursing homes is no longer a quiet crisis — it’s impact is making national news.

“Operators of nursing homes in Texas reported 97% turnover for certified nursing assistants, with 90% turnover for other key frontline caregiver positions — promoting leaders in the state to declare a “crisis,” Alex Spanko wrote in the national publication, Skilled Nursing News, May 16.

“Per-day Medicaid reimbursements for nursing homes in the Lone Star State have lagged behind actual costs since 1994, according to the THCA, with more than 75 percent of operators saying they can’t make ends meet on Medicaid residents.”

While the national publication reported the impact, the effects are also being recognized throughout the state.

“There’s a growing healthcare crisis in Central Texas. The nursing shortage isn’t new, but there’s now a dire need for help in nursing homes,” College Station’s KBTX-TV led the news with recently.

“Nursing homes in Central Texas and across the state are scrambling to find nursing staff in the face of a 97 percent annual turnover rate for certified nurse aides and a 90 percent annual turnover rate for registered and licensed vocational nurses,” Waco’s KWTX-TV reported.

“The Texas Panhandle’s large population of older residents could be impacted due to a nursing shortage facing the entire country,” reported Amarillo’s KFDA-TV in a report titled, Lowering the bar: nursing shortage impacts senior assisted living.

“I think the largest factor is low pay, they are paid extremely low wages for a job that is incredibly demanding,” Amarillo long term care Ombudsman Kathryn English told KFDA’s Mike Makie.

“…this problem is affecting more than 3,000 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state, including some of the 55 here in East Texas,” reported KETK-TV in Tyler and Longview.

“The turnover rate for long-term care is 90 percent and even higher for nurse assistants and licensed vocational nurses. This could result in a lower quality of care.”

Skilled Nursing News put the story into a national perspective with its coverage.

“States with higher average Medicaid rates generally saw higher nursing staffing hours per patient day, while additional research suggests that better reimbursement figures can lead to reduced rehospitalizations — a key metric for the government and operators alike,” Spanko wrote.

“In 2015, Texas had the second-lowest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the country, at $143.48 per day, ahead of only South Dakota and its $133.74 payment rate. For comparison, Alaska led the way with $435.64, followed by Hawaii at $278.77 and Delaware at $256.69.”

Spanko also noted that Texas is different in its demographic profile: “While the population has surged in recent years, Lone Star State schools haven’t kept pace with nursing graduates, leading to a deficit in the number of available registered nurses, according to another recent report from advisory firm Mercer,” he wrote.