ICYMI: New Survey Finds Minnesota Long Term Care Facilities Forced To Deny More Than 11,000 Admissions In The Month Of October

​A new survey conducted by the Long-Term Care Imperative, a partnership between Care Providers of Minnesota and LeadingAge Minnesota, found that nursing homes and assisted living communities across the state were forced to deny more than 11,000 admissions in October due to staffing shortages. Patti Cullen, CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, and Kari Thurlow, CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota, discussed the survey findings and the impact of workforce shortages on Minnesota long term care facilities in a joint op-ed published in MinnPost: 
“Right now, there are more than 20,000 vacant caregiver positions statewide, which represents about 20% of the caregiving workforce. As a result, many senior care providers are forced to deny seniors admittance because they don’t have enough staff to care for them.
“A new survey of 425 nursing homes and assisted living communities conducted by the Long-Term Care Imperative found that there were more than 11,000 denied admissions in October of this year.
“The impact on seniors and their families is unacceptable. They must find care hours away from their families, stay in a hospital longer than needed while waiting for an opening, or face declining health due to lack of services.”
Cullen and Thurlow explain how inadequate funding has led to caregivers leaving the profession, as Medicaid reimbursement rates fail to reflect the rising cost of care. The shortfall has made it difficult for providers to pay competitive wages. Although hundreds of Minnesota providers have increased wages by 10 percent or more over the last year, many are using the last of their budget reserves to do so, while hoping that lawmakers take action to remedy the situation. 
In an interview with WDAY-FM, Cullen further describes why nursing homes are turning post-hospital discharges away:  
“We have had, over decades, issues with certain difficult patients not finding places for post-hospital discharges. And by difficult, it means they tend to have quite a few comorbidities – a lot of bariatric, a lot of mental health, behavioral needs, and a lot of them without a payer source. That has been something that’s always been an issue we’ve been trying to work on solutions for literally decades …
“But if we don’t have the workers, especially if they require things like two-person transfer assist, and we don’t have two people available on each floor to be able to do that, under regulations, we can’t accept them in our settings. We have to be able to meet their needs, and if we can’t meet their needs because we don’t have the workers to cover, we can’t accept them. And so, we understand the hospitals’ concerns and issues, but if we don’t have the workers, again, there’s nothing we can do.” 
Minnesota is not alone. Workforce challenges are continuing to affect long term care facilities across the country, putting access to care at risk. Lawmakers must prioritize our most vulnerable population by making meaningful investments that will bolster the long term care workforce.