|March 25, 2022 02:37 PM
|Representative Rob W. Kauffman
|All House members
|Dialysis Direct Care Staffing Crisis
|The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the Commonwealth’s healthcare infrastructure and the dedicated citizens who care for the sick, the elderly, and the infirmed. As a General Assembly, we acted to assist many frontline employees in elder care facilities and hospitals. A critical segment of frontline healthcare professionals is those who provide life sustaining kidney dialysis services to our friends, our neighbors, and our constituents. Very soon, I will introduce legislation to provide relief and parity to the vital frontline workers who staff outpatient kidney dialysis facilities across the Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania’s 335 outpatient kidney dialysis centers currently provide high quality kidney dialysis treatment to approximately 20,000 residents. Without this life sustaining treatment three times weekly, patients suffering with end stage renal disease (ESRD) may need care in acute care emergency departments, endure lengthy inpatient hospitalizations, or worse.
With 82% of dialysis patients relying on Medicare, and nearly half of those patients also on Medicaid, the importance of adequate funding for this life sustaining care cannot be overstated. Maintaining proper staffing levels is critical for patients to receive quality.
Approximately 5,000 frontline workers have been caring for these critically ill patients during the Covid pandemic. These dedicated healthcare professionals and bio-technicians have been able to continue the operation of Pennsylvania’s outpatient dialysis centers under the most difficult of circumstances during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 public health emergency continues to impose extraordinary demands on dialysis providers and the nation’s healthcare system. Outpatient dialysis providers have taken significant steps to limit the spread of this virus while providing life sustaining care. They continue, however, to face staffing shortages amidst increased demand.
Simply put, there is a staffing crisis facing the dialysis community with hundreds of critically needed positions to be filled. A preexisting shortage of trained direct care staff members has been exacerbated by the unintended negative consequences created when the General Assembly enacted relief for hospitals to hire and retain staff. Nurses employed by dialysis providers are leaving these positions due to the financial incentives being offered by hospitals and health systems.
My legislation will provide relief to outpatient dialysis frontline workers similar to the ARPA funding provided to hospitals. It will allow providers to hire and retain frontline workers at Pennsylvania’s dialysis centers who will care for critically ill Pennsylvanians. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.
Introduced as HB2544