Health care work force shortage increases

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JEFFERSON CITY - Data released by the Missouri Hospital Association shows there is a health care work force shortage.

According to the report, several factors are causing the decrease, including sicker hospital patients, lack of Missouri Medicaid expansion and the retirement of baby boomers. One area of the health care field that is being impacted the most is nursing.

"It's going to be really bad in 2020 with all the baby boomers retiring out of nursing," said Mavis Eden, a nurse recruiter for SSM Health St. Mary's in Jefferson City.

She said one downside of the shortage is higher patient to nurse ratios.

"Our acuity is much higher than it used to be years ago based on our aging population that we're facing. On our inpatient units, outside of our critical care unit, it's five to one," she said.   

Eden said the hospital's main goal is to continue retaining their nursing staff. 

Nurse Meagan Lewis said the hospital does its best to make sure that its staff is well supported and isn't left feeling overworked.

"From the second I walked in the door, it was very welcoming," she said. "They seem to really care about you as a person. They're very friendly, they want to get to know you as a person and help you out in any way."

Even though the hospitals in Jefferson City are maintaining their nursing staff, Eden said there is always room for more nurses, and the process for finding them has not been easy. 

"I think it's very difficult at this time, with the unemployment being as low as it, is to recruit, in addition to the nursing shortage that continues with each year, to get worse," she said.

SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Mexico, Missouri, will be hosting a recruitment event for all clinic and hospital openings on Sept. 22.