Cheerful male and female nurses talking at table
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Minnesota state lawmakers are listening after long-term care industry advocates testified this week about the need for more staffing support as providers work to comply with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine rule for healthcare workers. 

“This is a potential powder keg with a very short fuse for long-term care, Kari Thurlow, vice president of advocacy for LeadingAge Minnesota. Her comments came as she testified during a hearing on Wednesday at the Minnesota State Capitol, according to local media reports.

“We face a scenario where we don’t have enough workers to serve the seniors in our settings, and despite our pleas for help, over the last several months, there are no concrete solutions either at the state or the federal levels, to help us solve our unprecedented workforce crisis,” Thurlow added. 

Additional funding that would help increase wages and programs that allow providers to share staff are all options that state lawmakers view as a solution. Republican State Sen. Michelle Benson, however, noted the options have been discussed for a month and called on providers to send them proposals. 

“When we start seeing nursing homes come down and go into receivership this is going to be an emergency, so if you need legislative approval send us the language,” Benson said. 

Minnesota isn’t alone in the staffing shortages. The long-term care industry nationwide has lost about 221,000 jobs — a 14% drop — between March 2020 and October 2021, which is the worst among all sectors of healthcare. 

“I would implore the committee to consider significant action to help statewide services that are essential to the livelihood of some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens,” Alan Berner, vice president of community services for Minnesota-based independent living provider The Phoenix Residence, added.