Democratic Senators Try Legislation To Boost Staffing In Nursing Homes – Kaiser Health News

The newly introduced legislation also includes efforts to improve infection control and bolster health care inspections. The AP reports, meanwhile, on efforts among hospital physicians to unionize at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital amid the upheaval in staffing amid the pandemic.

AP: Nursing Home Overhaul Bill Would Boost Staffing, Oversight

Responding to the ravages of COVID-19 in nursing homes, senior Democratic senators Tuesday introduced legislation to increase nurse staffing, improve infection control and bolster inspections. The bill, from a group led by Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, is part of a broader overhaul of long-term care just getting started. Separately, President Joe Biden is seeking $400 billion to expand home and community based care as an alternative to nursing homes in the giant domestic agenda bill Democrats are pushing in Congress. His COVID relief law already provided a down payment. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/10)

AP: Hospital Physicians Seek To Unionize Amid Pandemic Turmoil

Physicians at Rehoboth McKinley Christian hospital in Gallup have taken the first major step toward unionizing to pursue collective bargaining on employment provisions, hospital staff and a union official said Tuesday. The majority of roughly 30 physicians at the hospital have signed and submitted union authorization cards to the National Labor Relations Board, said Sue Wilson, spokeswoman of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists. A vote on unionization could still be required by the hospital operator, she said. (Lee, 8/11)

In related news about hospital staff shortages —

AP: Ambulances Wait Outside Hospitals As COVID Infections Spread

COVID-19 cases have filled so many Florida hospital beds that ambulance services and fire departments are straining to respond to emergencies. In St. Petersburg, some patients wait inside ambulances for up to an hour before hospitals can admit them — a process that usually takes about 15 minutes, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said. While ambulances sit outside emergency rooms, they are essentially off the grid. “They’re not available to take another call, which forces the fire department on scene at an accident or something to take that transport. That’s caused quite a backlog for the system.” (Kennedy and Licon, 8/11)

Houston Chronicle: ‘Critical Staffing Shortages’ At St. Luke’s Health’s Woodlands Prompts Temporary Close Of Conroe ER

St. Luke’s Health on Tuesday evening announced it will temporarily close its freestanding emergency room in Conroe to transfer operations to St. Luke’s Health-The Woodlands Hospital, confirmed a spokesperson for the health system. The Woodlands hospital, which is facing capacity issues and a “critical staffing shortage” amid a sharp increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations across Houston, will handle any urgent operations sent from the Conroe facility, according to a St. Luke’s Health release. The hospital will prioritize urgent and clinically necessary procedures and will consider non-urgent procedures case-by-case. (Zong, 8/10)

Las Vegas Review-Journal: MountainView Nurses Say Hospital’s Maternity Unit Unsafe For Patients

Labor and delivery nurses at MountainView Hospital spoke out Tuesday about what they described as unsafe conditions for pregnant patients and their unborn children due to inadequate numbers of nursing staff. When there are high volumes of patients, “There’s not enough staff to safely, appropriately provide the best care that we can,” said Nicole Taylor, a nurse in the hospital’s labor and delivery unit and chief nurse representative for National Nurses Organizing Committee-Nevada/National Nurses United. (Hynes, 8/10)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Surge In COVID Cases Overwhelms Georgia Hospitals; Nursing Shortage Reported

A steep increase in seriously ill COVID-19 patients has pushed hospitals statewide into crisis mode again this week, prompting worries that the new surge may overwhelm facilities already struggling to find enough nurses to adequately staff emergency rooms and intensive care units. Large hospitals in metro Atlanta frequently went on diversion status this week because they were so full, sending ambulances elsewhere. Some elective procedures started to get pushed back across the state to free up medical staff and hospital beds. Everywhere, top doctors monitored a trendline driven by the highly contagious delta variant they worry could surpass the January surge that flooded every hospital in Georgia. (Teegardin and Berard, 8/10)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.