Problems persist at Washington hospitals due to lack of long-term care options

Harborview Medical Center is currently diverting non-conspicuous patients as the hospital copes with overcrowding. Other local hospitals face similar concerns.

SEATTLE – The Harborview Medical Center reported Thursday that it will temporarily only accept patients who urgently need their specialized care.

The hospital said it has 560 patients in a hospital set up for 413 and that 100 of those patients are medically stable and need long-term follow-up but have not yet been able to be transferred.

Hospitals across the state issued warnings about the problem in July. Hospital officials said it continues to this day.

Hospitals provide acute care – treatment for an acute need such as a heart attack. Other facilities provide post-acute care such as rehabilitation or services such as memory maintenance.

The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) said many patients in hospitals are waiting to receive this treatment but are facing major delays.

“It’s really, really difficult to find a place in a nursing home or adult family home right now, and there are a number of reasons for that,” said WSHA CEO Cassie Sauer. “One is that care homes just aren’t paid enough to take care of really complex patients and it’s really difficult to hire people to work there, especially given the wage pressures we’re currently experiencing from our really tight employment economy. “

LeadingAge Washington, which champions nonprofit and mission-driven senior care and housing organizations, said current Medicaid rates make it difficult for long-term care providers to pay direct wages for caregivers.

“Our [certified nursing assistants] In both assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities, the average wage ranged from $16 to $18 an hour, one of the lowest wages in the healthcare sector,” a spokesman wrote. “Our direct caregivers hold some of the most important healthcare jobs caring for our state’s older adults, and their value must be reflected in their pay and how we perceive this profession, and we will not rebuild our workforce until these issues are addressed.” have tackled.

The group said hospitals have always been one of their biggest sources of patient referrals for long-term care and that it is their job to provide care and services for older adults who need housing and no longer need to be in hospitals, but current labor shortages are holding them back to enroll more patients.

“In some national studies, Washington is one of the states with the highest staffing shortages, with an estimated turnover of almost 40% for some positions, leaving long-term care providers unable to safely meet the needs of patients who are discharged from the hospital fulfill. ‘ wrote a spokesman. “Our staff shortages began well before COVID due to chronic Medicaid underfunding, but have exponentially worsened during this pandemic as staff are exhausted, retiring and finding employment elsewhere, and we are losing competent and caring staff.”

WSHA also has concerns about state interpretation of guardianship laws and the time it takes for a loved one to make long-term care decisions when a patient is unable to make decisions for themselves. WSHA said some of its hospitals have reported that these issues are causing transfers to take longer, even when a bed is available.

“This is an issue that should worry every Washingtonian right now,” Sauer said. “If we can’t get people out of the hospitals when they need a hospital bed, you might not be able to get one.”

The WSHA advocates an increase in funding for long-term care facilities and a reinterpretation or reinterpretation of guardianship laws.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said authorities continue to work with hospitals and communicate regularly with them — particularly Harborview — to try to find community housing.

The Office outlined some of its strategies in a letter to the WSHA.

CLOCK: Harborview, redirecting some patients is an ‘incredibly difficult decision’ Problems persist at Washington hospitals due to lack of long-term care options

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