No immediate solution to Florida healthcare worker shortages, industry leaders say

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A staffing crisis currently plaguing hospitals, nursing homes and community health centers likely has no short-term solution, a panel of industry executives told state lawmakers on Tuesday. .

Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew told the House Health & Human Services Committee that eliminating tedious paperwork and “anything that interferes with bedside care” could help make jobs in the health sector more attractive to future generations of workers.

“One of the things that we have been blessed with in health care is that there is generally a strong interest among middle and high school students in pursuing careers in health care and for many in becoming nurses.” , Mayhew said Tuesday. “And we want this to remain a fulfilling and rewarding career. So we must constantly re-examine how care is delivered, how it is managed, how it is supervised. ”

Steven Bennett, Workforce Development Manager for the Florida Association of Community Health Centers, described the current hiring situation as a “seller’s market” in which healthcare providers compete for employees. .

“Part of the challenge that I think we’re going to see over the next five years is a bit of a public relations challenge about building a career in healthcare,” Bennett said. “It’s a bit like 20 years ago in manufacturing, when we thought of manufacturing jobs as messy jobs. Well, if you were to go to a manufacturing plant, you would see that it was very clean, right? It was not correct.

Bennett said many community health centers experience annual staff turnover rates of up to 30 percent. Solving the staffing conundrum can be complicated, industry executives said.

“There is no short (term) solution. It’s a two to three year journey, ”said Aurelio Fernandez, President and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System.

Ahead of the 2022 legislative session that begins Jan. 11, lawmakers are looking for ways to strengthen education and training programs for nurses and other health care professionals to help alleviate staffing issues in the entire sector. Fernandez suggested that retired nurses could be recruited to teach in medical schools. Lawmakers could also consider speeding up licensing processes and exploring other changes to the qualifications of healthcare workers, Fernandez said.

“It would add to the pipeline,” he said. “But what about an immediate solution? No.”


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