SIOUX FALLS, SD ( Associated Press) — A new report from the American Health Care Association shows just how challenging the coronavirus pandemic has been for long-term care providers who have struggled with staffing and other issues.
During the course of the pandemic, South Dakota nursing homes have lost over 1,000 staff members, or about 14% of their workforce, according to the association’s report.
All health care providers saw decreases in staffing at the beginning of the pandemic, but some have either recovered or made significant progress toward pre-pandemic staffing levels.
South Dakota hospitals and home health agencies have rebounded or even exceeded the number of staff they had pre-pandemic, while South Dakota nursing homes and assisted living facilities continue to struggle with staffing levels.
“Nursing homes face unprecedented pressures. On top of years of Medicaid underfunding, they are also experiencing severe staffing shortages and have been on the front lines of the COVID battle for two years,” said Mark Deak, executive director of the South Dakota Health Care Association. “We are seeing empty beds in nursing homes, not because there isn’t a need for care, but because there aren’t enough staff to accept new admissions.”
South Dakota’s Medicaid reimbursement rates are below those of its neighboring states. Nursing homes lose an average of $65 each day for each resident paying through Medicaid.
Statewide, costs of unreimbursed care total more than $56 million annually, KSFY-TV reported. About 55% of the total resident population in nursing homes relies on Medicaid to pay for their care.