Earlier this month, a New York Times story highlighted data from the Kaiser Foundation that tracked how many hours various nursing home staffers would spend with an individual resident each day. It illuminated problems with staffing in many facilities across the country. The Tampa Bay Times reported on Florida’s nursing home staffing. In most places across America, nursing homes are facing an acute shortage of workers to take care of the country’s growing population of aging and disabled patients. But not in Florida.
A Kaiser Family Foundation report published last month found that while most nursing homes in other states states fail to employ enough staff including nurses, Florida’s staffing levels exceeded the national average and met or exceeded industry expectations. According to Kaiser, Florida reported an average of 4.55 in total nurse hours per resident per day, which is higher than the national average of 4.05. Only Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Utah averaged more hours than Florida. These states show that staffing above the safe level of 4.1 can be done.
Florida faces shortages in other medical sectors. Nurses who work at five Florida hospitals owned by Hospital Corporation of America picketed last week to raise awareness about what they said were unsafe staffing ratios. The nurses demonstrated in front of Northside Hospital, St. Petersburg Hospital, Blake Medical Center in Bradenton and Doctor’s Hospital of Sarasota.
In December, the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida identified another growing shortage: the number of doctors practicing in Florida is not keeping up with the state’s surging population growth. More money is needed to recruit physicians and keep them here, hospital officials say, especially in the specialty areas of urology, thoracic surgery, nephrology and ophthalmology.
In addition to these speciality services, the alliance’s report cited a “severe shortage” of primary care physicians in Southwest Florida, an area extending from Naples to Sarasota.