KEARNEY, Neb. — It’s a detrimental domino effect impacting Nebraskans and their health and it begins with the ongoing nursing shortage.
“Nebraskans are delayed in the care that they need,” said Jeremy Nordquist, President of the Nebraska Hospital Association.
That’s because hospitals have to have enough nurses to care for patients.
And if they’re short on nurses, they can’t open up more beds.
Nordquist said this leads to longer wait times.
“If a hospital doesn’t have enough bed capacity, it backs up in the emergency room,” he said. “Anywhere from 50 to 70 Nebraskans are waiting in an emergency room for a bed to open up."
According to the NHA, 66 of Nebraska’s counties are deemed medically underserved.
Not just hospitals but other health care facilities are feeling the deficit.
“We’re seeing a shortage of capacity at nursing homes and skilled nursing care where a lot of people typically would go when they’re ready to be discharged,” said Shealee Clausen, Director of Nursing at Kearney Regional.
Cheryl White, Executive Director of Cambridge Court Assisted Living saw this happen with one of their own residents.
“She’d been in and out of the hospital quite a bit and had some pretty significant issues, she needed that rehab and there was no place in Kearney that could take her,” said White.
For many, they have to stay admitted to the hospital until a bed is ready for them.
“They’ll stay here with us and we’ll continue to care for them until that opens up or we find a spot,” said Clausen.
That in turn backs up beds for new patients in need of care.
“If the facilities that we’re referring to are full or can’t take patients, that really does impact our ability to get that patient that’s ready to move on to a swing bed or nursing home out and a patient that needs more care in,” said Clausen.