Group of Ky. lawmakers calls for special session to discuss hospital staffing shortages

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:47 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WSAZ) - Staffing shortages have plagued the health care system for years. It’s an ongoing issue that has only been heightened by this pandemic, according to the Kentucky Hospital Association.

“The staffing shortages aren’t new. They’ve been growing for some time. COVID-19 has simply sped up the problem and shined a very bright light on it,” said Nancy Galvagni, president and CEO of the Kentucky Hospital Association.

Meanwhile, some hospitals reported hiring travel nurses to alleviate staffing shortages, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Agency travel nurses can cost $150 to $200 per hour.

Several Kentucky hospitals reported they’ve had to borrow money to cover payroll costs while some deferred elective procedures.

“From the data through 2020, we had a billion dollars worth of losses that weren’t covered by those funds,” Galvagni said.

Lawmakers said more help could come Kentucky’s way with direct action from Gov. Andy Beshear.

“I’m asking you to please call us in and allow us as a general assembly to use AARPA funds to fix this problem. If the concern is there are not enough funds, we can designate those from other projects towards something that is facing us right now. The longer we wait, the worse this problem is going to get.”

The KHA said while there have been staff members fired for not taking the vaccine. The overwhelming majority of staff chose to get the vaccine on their own. KHA said the vaccine mandate has not impacted or increased the staffing shortages.

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