‘They deserve to be cared for’: Nursing homes lose caregivers during the pandemic

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 10:44 PM CST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The pandemic has caused many problems, one of them being the inability to find and keep employees.

Nursing homes are no exception. A recent jobs report from the American Healthcare Association found nursing homes have lost almost 238,000 employees since the pandemic began.

Reita Slatus, the Executive Director of Buckingham South Assisted Living, said a lot of the staffing shortage across the healthcare system comes from people who are burnt out and overwhelmed.

“This pandemic...The rise of this new Omicron wave and it’s frightening. It really is,” said Reita Slatus, the Executive Director of Buckingham South Assisted Living.

At Buckingham South, Slatus said they haven’t been understaffed like other facilities. They’ve actually been overstaffed and the national guard has been to the facility to help.

“We’re not going to be short staffed because then ultimately what you’re gonna do is you’re biting your nose off to spite your face. If you don’t have enough staff, your staff is going to jump ship and say I’m going elsewhere,” she said.

All of their residents are vaccinated and more than 95% of their staff, but that’s not stopping them from having some staff call outs from COVID exposure.

“Are they home because they’re exposed to COVID? Are they home because their afraid of being exposed to COVID? I think it’s a combination of everything,” Slatus said.

She said they’ve seen a high demand of applicants to work at their facility, some of them are leaving healthcare jobs because they’re taking on two to three times their normal workload.

“We have staffing agencies calling us all day long...do you need people? Do you need people? Do you need people because they know what’s going on out there.”

Slatus said the shortage of caregivers puts a snowball effect on the industry, but they’re doing all they can to protect their own.

“The senior citizens are the most precious commodity we have in life. These are our parents, grandparents, our aunts and uncles. They need to be cared for and they deserve to be cared for.”

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