Nearly 53% of New Mexico hospitals reported critical staff shortages, placing the state at the top of a national list, according to a new analysis of federal data.
New Mexico is the only state in which more than half of the hospitals reported serious staff shortages, Becker’s Hospital Review reported. Vermont ranks second on the list at 47%.
“Right now, yes, I would say we are in a situation where we are one of the most strained areas in the country,” said Troy Clark, President and CEO of the New Mexico Hospital Association.
Clark said Thursday he was unfamiliar with the Becker Hospital Review analysis, which was based on data from the Federal Health and Social Service released Tuesday, but believes it is credible that New Mexico tops the list of hospitals reporting critical staff shortages . Clark said Thursday he was unfamiliar with Becker’s data, but believes it is credible that New Mexico tops the list of hospitals reporting critical staff shortages.
Many New Mexico hospitals have lost staff nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic for a variety of reasons, including retirement, stress, and burnout, Clark said.
The rush of COVID-19 patients, combined with those in need of treatment that was postponed earlier in the pandemic, means most hospitals are treating more inpatients than they are allowed to receive treatment, Clark said.
“We’re pretty tense right now, pretty stressed out,” he said.
The shortage of staff is also putting a heavy strain on hospitals, who have to hire expensive temporary workers to fill the gap. Hospitals must hire staff through agencies charging up to $ 265 an hour to provide “travel nurses,” Clark said.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals typically paid $ 65 to 80 an hour for nurses, he said.
“Your costs are going through the roof,” said Clark. “It creates a financial sustainability problem for the hospitals. But we have these patients who need to be cared for. “
A September survey by the New Mexico Hospital Association of member hospitals found that nearly 30% of New Mexico care positions were either vacant or temporary. Clark said the problem has likely worsened since then.
Hospitals also have jobs among other staff, such as respiratory therapists and radiation technologists, he said.
There are shortage hospitals across the country.
In Farmington, two military medical teams consisting of nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors were deployed to the San Juan Regional Medical.
In the greater Albuquerque area, two major hospital systems have declared crisis standards for care – giving doctors more flexibility in moving patients and ultimately the ability to ration care. Officials from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico hospitals said in recent public appearances that they have each hired hundreds of traveling nurses to help with patient care.
Despite these efforts, Dr. Michael Richards, executive vice president of clinical affairs at UNM Hospital, said long waits have left some patients frustrated and beating health care workers.
“This makes for a really difficult patient experience, these long waits,” he said earlier this month. “We see increasingly difficult and frequent situations in which patients or family members help create a difficult environment due to the frustrations and long waiting times.”
Melanie Mozes, a Presbyterian spokeswoman, said the health system was facing a staff shortage like many across the country.
“To address this shortcoming, Presbyterian remains focused on maintaining the excellent clinical team we have today and conducting strong recruiting efforts across the country,” she said in an email. “Presbyterian is also working with local educational institutions to strengthen our talent pipeline for the future.”