A sense of urgency
Our current financial situation
Stabilizing our finances requires immediate and ongoing attention if we are to protect critical services and address our challenges with health care workforce shortages and access to care.
There are not enough qualified workers to hire, creating a workforce shortage on all levels of patient care. The workforce shortage in health care is a national issue that is not projected to improve any time soon. There are not enough qualified nurses, doctors, and other health care staff to hire, creating a workforce shortage on all levels of patient care and adding to pressure on our teams. While worsened by the pandemic, this was an issue that began before then. To fill the need, health care organizations everywhere have contracted with temporary health care staff, known as travelers.
The unprecedented cost increases we’ve experienced this year are largely due to the high demand for traveler staff across the country, which has resulted in skyrocketing hiring costs, as seen below.
The progression of traveler RN rate increase:
per hour were the standard rates in 2018.
per hour are the current urgent rates for traveler RN, a 46%–54% increase from 2018.
per hour are the current highest rates nationally for traveler RN, a 61%–62% increase from 2018.
Increased costs due to the high rate of inflation are being experienced in multiple industries across the country, and health care is no exception. The cost to care for our patients has increased dramatically just in the last several months.
During the pandemic, we worked quickly to meet the needs of our community through a comprehensive response to COVID-19 and caring for patients with life-threatening conditions. While serving those in need, it meant that we reduced or stopped altogether providing services that contribute toward our operating margin. The financial impact was significant.
Due to the widespread labor shortages both locally and nationally, including at health care facilities outside our Network, along with capacity issues, we are unable to transfer patients as quickly to other more appropriate settings (e.g., nursing homes and mental health facilities) when they no longer need acute care. Even when no beds are available in these lower-cost settings and we must continue to provide care, certain health insurance requirements often mean we do not get paid for the non-acute care we provide.
The following graphs illustrate the negative effects these circumstances have had across the Network, with the financial condition of the UVMHN Vermont hospitals illustrating the seriousness of the situation.