Nursing Home Staffing Linked to COVID-19 Rates

By By Dan Hounsell
March 4, 2021

Basic tactics to stop the spread of the coronavirus — social distancing, handwashing and mask wearing — are well known by now. Since March 2020, managers have emphasized these measures to anyone and everyone who works in or visits hospitals, senior care centers and other healthcare facilities. Now research suggests that one challenge closer to home for managers — staffing — plays a central role in the health of staff and patients.

Extraordinarily high turnover among staffs at nursing homes likely contributed to the shocking number of deaths at the facilities during the pandemic, the authors of a new study suggested.

The study represents a comprehensive look at the turnover rates in 15,645 nursing homes across the country, accounting for nearly all of the facilities certified by the federal government, according to The New York Times. The researchers found the average annual rate was 128 percent, with some facilities experiencing turnover that exceeded 300 percent.

Inadequate staffing and low pay have long plagued nursing homes and quality of care for the more than 1 million residents who live in these facilities. But the pandemic has exposed these issues even more sharply, with investigations underway into some states’ oversight of the facilities as COVID-19 cases spiraled unchecked and deaths skyrocketed.

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