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Two long term care nurses speak out on nursing shortages in Long Term Care facilities

As a bill to address Illinois’ statewide nursing shortage makes its way through the House, two women who work in that field are shedding light on a position they feel has been forgotten, long term care.

The two we spoke with said they work at a Long Term Care facility, commonly refereed to as a nursing home in Pekin. They wanted to conceal their identities for fear of repercussions from their employer, but said everyone should know their daily battles while taking care of your loved ones.

One of the long term care nurses said with fewer care givers and a growing patient list, they can’t keep up.

“These people deserve better. When I go into work I want these people to feel like I treat them as my mom. my grandma, my sister. That’s how I would want my family member to be treated and I feel like some days that we are set up for failure when we go into work because we don’t have the time to be able to devote that to those residents.” said a LPN for long term care for three years.

The regional recruiter at Unity Point Health describes this shortage as the silver Tsunami because so many nurses are retiring.

“The percentage of actual people that are leaving is not that high but we do predict that it can be as great as 15% to 20% over the work of the next 3 years which of you think about that, that’s going to significantly impact those ratios whenever we see patients come through.” said Courtney Newgard,  Regional manager of talent acquisition Unity Point Health

Courtney Newgard said the other issue is that baby boomers are getting older and will need more care. One nurse of eight years, including management, said these issues are exaggerated at the long term care level.

“We will have nurses that will maybe come from the hospital and once they get to a long term care setting its so overwhelming that a lot of times it runs them away.” said a LPN for long term care for eight years.

At their Pekin facility they describe being so short staffed they only have time for the minimum, usually involving medication prep.

“I mean we don’t have the time to stop and do wound care or even if they need somebody just to hold their hand for a minute you know or just need to talk to somebody. You are on a time crunch because by law you have one hour prior and one hour after that scheduled med pass to have that done so when you have 40 residents, these residents can take 20, 30 pills in one sitting. ” said the three year LPN.

She said not treating wounds has even led to sepsis, which can be deadly.

They said they understand in house management’s hands are often tied, being more of a corporate issue, and hope lawmakers will bring change.

“State comes into the building. I would like to see them not just sit in an office and look at paper work. Come out onto the main lobby, the main area, talk with the residents, talk with the staff, get the real ins and outs of whats going on in that building.” said the eight year LPN

There are no federal mandates regulating the number of patients which can be assigned to one nurse. House bill 2604 is modeling a law in California. It is unclear when a vote would happen and what it would mean for nurses outside the traditional hospital setting.

Kaitlin Pearson

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