Two state agencies will seek nearly $40 million from the emergency legislative council to help alleviate what they describe as a financial and personnel disaster that has left hundreds of patients in limbo.
Oregon Health Authority and Department of Human Services officials hope the money will help address what they call the post-pandemic health care crisis. A massive exodus of nurses and others from health care has ripped a hole in hospital financial models.
Oregon hospitals collectively lost $190 million in the first quarter of this year. They do not expect the second quarter, completed at the end of June, to be better.
Nurses say they are leaving the field because they are tired of the risks posed by COVID-19, the danger posed by erratic patients and constant demands from management to do more with less.
Staffing shortages are a double whammy for hospitals and nursing homes. They have to replace deceased nurses with temporary help that costs a lot more.
Also, they don’t have enough staff to take care of the patients. ER patients can wait days for a bed to open, clogging up the entire system.
But the situation worsens when nursing homes and skilled nursing centers refuse to take patients ready to be discharged from hospital because they too are understaffed to care for additional residents.
An estimated 600 patients in Oregon are currently in that crawl space. They generate little or no revenue for hospitals and they take up a bed that would normally be assigned to a new patient with immediate medical needs.
The Department of Social Services is requesting $25.7 million from the state general fund and $2.6 million from other funds. The money would be used to pay “incentives” to long-term care facilities to accept these stranded hospital patients.
The extra funds would fund teams of emergency nurses to help care homes hit hardest by staff shortages. It would generate new, higher reimbursements for adult foster homes that take in some of these patients. And it would create a relief fund for providers to save nursing homes and other facilities facing insolvency.
The Oregon Health Authority is seeking $9.6 million in general funds and $2 million in other funds. Most of it will go to short-term nursing staff support – about 50 in all – for hospitals.
The emergency council reviews agency funding requests outside of regular legislative sessions. It is unclear when he will consider these requests.
Hospitals and health systems across Oregon are suffering heavy financial losses. They approached state officials asking for help, which they also did during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve asked the state to help us take the strain off the system, especially when it comes to dismissing some patients and transferring others to more appropriate levels of care,” Becky Hultberg said. , president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and HealthCare Systems. “Today the state has pledged to help, and we are grateful.”