Across North Texas and the rest of the country, nursing homes are being hit by staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. According to NBC 5, some nursing homes have had to raise operating costs or shut down entirely.
In the past two years, dozens of nursing homes have closed in Texas.
George Linial, the CEO and president of the nonprofit Leading Age of Texas, told NBC 5 that 12% of those working in long-term care in Texas left the industry during the pandemic.
“Without enough staff, places have had to close wings to reduce admissions, and that has an effect on the total healthcare system because hospitals usually discharged to nursing homes for rehab,” Linial explained. “And some of them have been unable to find spots for people. So they stay in the hospital, and that just adds to the cost.”
“We usually talk about nurses,” he added. “There’s a huge shortage of RNs and LVNs. But there’s openings in all parts of all parts of the system, including maintenance, housekeeping, accounting. You name it … there’s opportunities for people to work in the field.”
According to Linial, retaining existing staff members is currently a priority at nursing homes.
“There have been about 20 nursing homes that have closed in the last year,” he said. “And several more are sort of on the brink just because they can’t afford the staff pay increases.”
“About two-thirds of nursing homes have residents that are on Medicaid,” he explained. “So they rely on state funding, and those state rates have not increased in a long time. So it has really put a real strain on the system, in terms of how do you figure out how to keep staff?”
Some of the nursing homes that have closed since the start of 2020, as reported by Texas Health and Human Services, include The Gardens of Bellaire, The Forum at Lincoln Heights, and Wellington Oaks Nursing & Rehabilitation.
The American Health Care Association conducted a recent survey that found over half of United States nursing homes are currently taking a financial loss. Over 400 are expected to close this year over financial issues.
According to the survey, most homes that closed were located in urban settings.
Cambridge Caregivers and Manchester Care Homes, two nursing facilities based in Dallas, have managed to retain staff despite issues faced by other homes, NBC 5 reported.
The CEO of both facilities, Adam Lampert, has spent his money to help employees with gas costs.
“He is very generous with our staff,” Director of Marketing and Business Development Brian Levy said. “We just moved our gas stipend from $25 per child per paycheck to $30 per paycheck. For everyone, anybody full-time, whether you’re the admin or you’re a caregiver or a house manager. We do IRA match, we pay health benefits, flexible schedules, PTO, quarterly and discretionary bonuses, end of year rev share.”
Levy told NBC 5 that being locally owned is the main reason they can offer to provide those benefits.
“We’re fortunate that we’re locally owned and operated. And when we want to do something like a gas stipend or PTO … We can do it,” he said. “A franchise or a corporate-owned company, they can’t do those things.”
According to Levy, Texas families should stay informed about current nursing home issues if they have a loved one in a long-term care facility.