New Mexico hospitals ended the 12 months with the most important scarcity of workers in the US
“We hear it, but I don’t think we internalize it,” said Troy Clark, president of the New Mexico Hospital Association. “We know how hard they work to keep our communities healthy.”
Clark says there simply aren’t enough health workers in the state to treat everyone, be it the nursing positions, respiratory therapists, technician positions, or a variety of other positions. In fact, he says the number should be 53% higher when you consider how many travel nurses are already in key positions.
“To give you perspective, hospitals would typically employ 4-6% of their staff as agencies in the winter months before the pandemic,” said Clark. “At the end of summer we were at 12 percent plus another 17 percent vacancy.”
According to Clark, many permanent employees quit their jobs simply because they are burned out.
“We have been in a pandemic for 21 months now, and not only have they not been discontinued,” said Clark, “but almost all of them have worked extra shifts, longer shifts, and in areas that they don’t normally work.”
To make matters worse, a recent UNM survey found there are about 6,000 open nursing homes in New Mexico – but the state has only certified about 1,200 new nurses in 2021.
“Even if they all stayed in New Mexico and we didn’t retire or leave the state for other reasons, it would take us 5 years to fill the backlog that we need to fill the shortage we currently have . “Remarked Clark.
A blatant reality that may well persist for a long time after the end of COVID-19.
“I can’t tell you how many people I hear from when they have a family member or end up in the hospital themselves,” said Clark. “They say when I was touring hospitals and talking to family members and patients we didn’t know how busy you are with the hardship and hard work of these people. And you know, we tend to” take it for granted. “