HERSHEY – With demand for health care on the rise and providers struggling to maintain necessary staffing levels to best meet patient needs, the House Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), convened a public hearing to examine the issue Tuesday at Penn State Health in Hershey.
A second hearing on challenges specific to rural health care is planned for January in Bradford.
“We are all one accident, injury or medical incident away from a trip to the hospital, and we take for granted the doctors, nurses and other professionals trained to help are there waiting for us,” Causer said. “While the professionalism and devotion of those providers remains strong, many health care facilities – including hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and home care providers – say they simply don’t have enough people available to properly meet patient needs. We need to look for ways to reverse this trend.”
Testifiers included nurses, hospital executives, and representatives of health care and home care agencies. All expressed concern about the challenge of retaining current health care providers who are struggling with stress, burnout and other strains on their physical and mental health. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers also saw an increase in the number of nurses leaving facility jobs in favor of higher-paying traveler positions.
With the American Hospital Association estimating hospitals will need to hire at least 200,000 nurses a year to meet increased demand and replace retiring nurses, testifiers urged increasing the number of nursing school programs, offering financial aid programs for candidates and supporting new care models for patients.
In addition to staffing issues, Causer said the committee will hold a hearing next month to discuss rural health care challenges, including situations like the one being experienced in Bradford with the loss of acute care and surgical services at Bradford Regional Medical Center earlier this year.
“Rural health care facilities across the state are struggling to keep their doors open to meet the needs of their communities,” Causer said. “We need to identify solutions that will enable these vital health care services to remain available and accessible to our rural residents.”
The hearing is tentatively planned for Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
To watch a video of Wednesday’s hearing in Hershey or to read testimony submitted to the committee, go to pagoppolicy.com/pasthearings
Representative Martin T. Causer
House Majority Policy Committee Chairman
67th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler
Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), chairman of the House Majority Policy Committee, leads a hearing about health care staffing challenges at Penn State Health in Hershey. The hearing was held in the Life Lion hangar on the hospital campus.