The COVID-19 pandemic is an issue that was and is inescapable for anyone in the U.S. For many this meant a few days of sickness, some short-term symptoms, and maybe some longer-term issues. For some though, this meant a life threatening disease and stress on a system that couldn’t take it.
Nursing homes in particular are perfectly representative for the negative extremes that COVID could hit. During the first few years of the pandemic 40% of nursing homes were cited for poor infection control practices. This statistic is, in large part, what helped lead nursing homes into making up a fifth of all COVID deaths.
Today over 400 nursing homes are on the brink of shutting down, with more than 300 already having closed during the pandemic. This is unsurprising when considering that these homes are losing money year after year. Importantly though, it’s also unsurprising when considering that 15% of the nursing home workforce left in the pandemic.
Currently 89% of healthcare organizations are experiencing a staffing shortage, this is bad enough but it’s particularly bad when considering nurses are the key to safe and secure facilities. Nurses currently are overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated. More than half are even actively considering leaving in the next six months.
This is a worrying state not only because of a shortage, but because of a drop in the quality of nurse care. Stressed workers are less likely to remember simple policies like properly washing their hands and thus spread infection more readily.
Luckily, change is not impossible. While there are obvious forces like providing better funding to nursing homes, there are also more on the ground level actions that can help. One innovator of this idea is IPCWell.
This organization works by education and giving practical training to existing nurses. Working to overhaul and really analyze what’s working and what’s not, what’s causing necessary and unnecessary stress. This gives nurses a lot more autonomy in what is ultimately a very hard situation.
While it’s not a perfect solution, it’s actions like these that move the country towards a better state. COVID left a lot of people generally unaffected, but it ruined many people’s lives just the same. Working to reduce the long term effects, both direct and indirect, is essential to the future of the healthcare industry.