North Dakota

New report highlights staffing concerns in Minn. health care facilities – InForum

ST. PAUL – A new report from the Minnesota Hospitals Association shows a sharp increase in job openings for healthcare workers across the state.

The report, which examines demographics of 77,128 workers at 97 hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities statewide, found that Minnesota’s overall job vacancy rate has more than tripled.

“So the key takeaway here is that the vacancy rate has increased to 21% this year 2022, compared to just about 6% last year in 2021,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, President and CEO of Minnesota Hospital Association. “This places an incredible burden on hospitals, which are open 365 days a year and provide care services to communities and Minnesotans across the state.”

In addition to more vacancies, the report also found more workers with part-time status, particularly for younger professionals, with 44% of hospital workers overall working less than full-time and 57% of registered nurses. According to the report, “hospitals and healthcare systems are finding it more difficult to meet operational needs.”

Healthcare facilities continue to experience higher turnover among newer workers, with 25% of workers leaving with less than five years of experience. Conversely, workers with more experience (over 5 years) saw only 14% of employees leave the company.

“What this means for the availability of care is why we are so concerned and why we are bringing it to the attention of our federal and state legislators,” Koranne said. “We have a legal and ethical obligation to always be open, we are the ultimate healthcare safety net. So if we don’t have the staff, it could affect the supply to Minnesotans, which is really concerning.”

Staffing levels and retention have been key issues in ongoing negotiations between the Minnesota Nurses Union and over a dozen hospitals across the state. During the three-day strike in September, several nurses said burnout from the pandemic had exacerbated staff shortages.

The labor shortage – which the report describes as “downright alarming” – is also affecting the bottom line. An MHA analysis of hospital finances “showed that the average operating margin of hospitals and healthcare systems was -1.5% in Q1 and Q2 2022 versus 2.2% in 2021, down 172% year-on-year. “

“That’s the margin invested in new innovation, in community investment, in new programs and services to serve the community and the people in their community in new and different ways,” Koranne said. “All of that can be very challenging when the bottom line or operating margin is negative.”

To address these concerns, the MHA is advocating several solutions, including: rethinking government reimbursements, expanding the pipeline of health workers, improving accessibility in this space through loan forgiveness and grants, and simplifying the administrative process at admissions offices.

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