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Nationwide nursing home worker shortage impacting Wichita facilities

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Some say the healthcare labor shortage is the worst it’s ever been.

A new study shows that nursing homes have lost nearly a quarter of a million workers since the pandemic.

Representatives from Prairie Homestead Senior Living and Homestead Health Center, both located in Wichita, have said people leaving the industry is not new. However, since the pandemic began, staffing challenges have gotten worse. So now, they are doing all they can to bring workers in and keep them.

“We have had more positions open. We have had to learn to do more with less and work smarter, not harder. But yet, by the end of the day, we still have people to take care of,” said Brenda Janda, the executive director at Prairie Homestead Senior Living.

Janda said her 25 employees are usually working overtime. She said when she makes a new hire, some of them leave in a matter of days for things like better pay.

“We are still finding challenges we have never had to deal with before,” said Janda about the COVID pandemic.

Elizabeth Howarth, the administrator of Homestead Health Center, is in a similar situation. She said Homestead is relying heavily on temporary workers to get by.

“We know it is not us. There is not something specifically wrong with Homestead. It’s the system. It is broken,” said Howarth.

While both women are working to keep wages competitive and incentivize working with the population, they both worry about what lies ahead.

“It is going to be interesting to see how that all comes out because right now healthcare is not a place where anybody wants to work because of everything that is going on outside of our walls,” said Howarth.

Prairie Homestead is looking at raising wages, and Homestead Health Center is offering referral bonuses. Both locations said if things don’t get better, they worry about patient care, which is their top priority.

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