National nursing shortage affects local retirement communities

Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 12:55 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The national nursing shortage has been described as one of the most pressing issues in the healthcare industry.

Although it affects hospitals and nursing homes throughout the United states, care facilities in the Shenandoah Valley have felt the shortage’s impact. In the Harrisonburg area, there are 173 open positions for registered nurses on

Deserted hallways and empty beds are a common occurrence at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, as the national nursing shortage has left them understaffed. Rebecca Kline, the nursing director at VMRC, said they’re accepting fewer patients as a result.

“We have taken quality of care as our top priority,” said Kline, “In order to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our consumers, our patients, we’ve limited the number of occupants we can care for.”

The VMRC has 30 empty beds, but staff must work long hours to compensate for shortages. For licensed practical nurses like Hannah Mannhart, long hours can prove especially draining.

“You want to give the best care you can every single day that you show up for work,” said Mannhart, “And when you’re working a lot of overtime, you do not have the same mental capacity, the same emotional capacity, to really care the way you want to.”

A new CMS mandate will triple the minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country. Kline said she stands by the CMS for pushing for better quality of care, but the changes are unrealistic.

“A staffing mandate alone is not a solution,” said Kline, “In order for a staffing mandate to be successful, we have to have federal support.”

Kline said the mandates only place more pressure on the facilities and staff, since the shortage is one of the most pressing issues in the medical field.

“Like most anything else, it’s a supply and demand,” Kline said, “And right now, the demand is much higher than the supply.”