Elkridge, Md. – Maryland hospitals are experiencing a staggering workforce shortage that limits their capacity to meet the needs of all Maryland residents.
These challenges come after nearly two years on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and at a time when the total demand for hospital care—for COVID and everything else—is without precedent.
We are pleased that hospitalizations from the omicron variant have crested, though the number of COVID inpatients remains high. Combined with non-COVID patients seeking care that may have been delayed, our hospital system is still struggling to manage the volume of patients amid a historic workforce shortage.
One indication: Maryland hospitals have over 3,900 nursing vacancies—a 50% jump since late August.
In recent weeks Gov. Larry Hogan announced executive action and a proposed Health Care Heroes Act to help ease workforce challenges for hospitals.
“We appreciate Governor Hogan’s efforts with the emergency order and other flexibilities,” says Bob Atlas, president, and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association. “Unfortunately, the Governor’s legislation and other proposed bills to address hospitals’ workforce challenges will not become law before the 30-day public health emergency runs out this Friday, February 4.”
Hospitals in Maryland and across the nation faced staffing burdens even before the COVID-19 pandemic and this latest surge. The American Hospital Association reports that job postings for nurses are up 45% nationwide since January 2020 and 41% for other clinical staff. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 500,000 more nurses will leave the workforce this year— bringing the national shortage to 1.1 million nurses.
“All industries have been affected by workforce shortages during the pandemic,” Atlas says. “Yet, our hospitals are unique in that they must be ready to perform life-saving services 24/7/365 no matter what. We need legislative solutions, partnerships, and innovation to ensure we have the caregivers to meet all our communities’ needs.”