Critical Number of Rural Iowa Nursing Homes Closed Recently

Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors.

They hope increased government funding, and more focus on rural health care this year, will help. Looking at a graph that shows the number of nursing home employees between January 2019 and January 2020, the bright red line goes almost straight down. The pandemic was a big reason for that, but Iowa Health Care Association President Brent Willet says there are other economic factors at work, and the staffing shortages have already resulted in double-digit closures…(audio clip below :12 )

The Good Samaritan Society in Newell and Morningside Care Center in Ida Grove are among the Iowa nursing homes that closed last year.

Willet says nursing homes can’t offer competitive wages to people who are willing to take these demanding jobs, especially in rural areas where the population is declining. He remains optimistic, though. He says the Iowa Legislature will reconsider those wages this year, as more than half of nursing-home funding comes from state and federal governments.

Willet says it’s also becoming harder for people in rural nursing homes to get the support they need from other medical-service providers in town. He says this adds to the problems already caused by staffing shortages, simply because those services dwindle along with the population…(audio clip below :11 )

The national long-term care facility numbers are also alarming. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported recently that 129 nursing homes closed in 2022, although this year, the numbers are starting to improve.

(credit to Iowa News Service)

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