Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Social health care no appealing for potential nursed and aides

February 9, 2000

Recent studies have determined that fewer and fewer people are employed as home health care nurses and aides and nursing home assistants.

Keeping these positions filled has become a major problem because of the decrease in financial help from previous providers.

Kansas has lost 62 Medicare agencies in the past couple of years, which leaves fewer to offer money for care.

First, the reason the problem has occurred must be addressed.

"Medical reimbursement has be drastically slashed in the last couple of years," said Linda Lubensky, executive director of the Kansas Home Care Association in Lawrence. "What is reimbursed does not cover the cost for agencies anymore."

But, Lubensky said it is hard to find a solution when other factors play a role.

"Lots of other jobs provide equal or better pay," Lubensky said. "The industry is so strapped for cash that there is no way to keep workers."

Lubensky said that these positions cause a great deal of stress for the worker, which makes other jobs appear more appealing.

Lubensky said she had no exact numbers, but the turnover rate is high among nursing assistants, home health care nurses and aides.

Women, who are in their 30s and 40s, single with children, predominantly are the ones who fill the positions.

There has been a push in Medicare and Medicaid to cut services to a minimum, a move Lubensky sees as excessive.

Despite the problems, Mike Truman, Tonganoxie Nursing Center administrator, said that in the past five to 10 years, the industry has traveled "light years" from where it was.

"The biggest problem here is, since it is farther out from Kansas City, we don't have the pool of employees," Truman said.

Most of the employees at the nursing center are from the area. To those employees, he said, their work is more than a job it is a way of life.

Unlike some of its counterparts, the Tonganoxie nursing center does pay for employee training. The nursing center is seeking nurses and CNAs for the evening and night shifts. It also offers a signing bonus.

According to a national survey conducted by North Carolina this year, every state is dealing with the shortage.

The number of jobs to be filled is expected to increase by 76 percent between 1996 and 2006, experts say.

"The industry will, hopefully, work its way out of this dark period in the next year or two," Lubensky said. "But, there is no immediate fix."

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