Advocacy group claims Texoma facing nursing home workforce crisis

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - A Texas health care advocacy group is reporting a problem it claims is impacting nursing homes in Texoma.

Texas Health Care Association released statistics, it says, shows there are fewer nurses working at long-term care facilities.

The advocacy group claims the turnover rate at nursing homes in the area is more than 90 percent.

Anthony Weary, an administrator at Advanced Rehab and Healthcare, said their retention rate is 50 percent. For most industries, that is a failing grade but the advocacy group claims that is a passing grade according to its report.

"We try to limit the amount of turnover that we can but it's just a hard thing to get it where it's under control all the time," Weary said.

Weary said one of the reasons they struggle to retain Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) is because of the low unemployment rate and competitive wages in other trades in Wichita Falls.

"If they're able to get paid comparable wages in the community without having to work as physically as they have to do, then, of course, people will take those jobs," Weary said.

Kevin Warren, CEO of Texas Health Care Association, said it is hard for nursing homes to raise wages because of the state's low Medicare reimbursement.

Weary said recruiting of staff at his nursing home is another reason more people are leaving.

"We've lost quite a few staff moving away from Texoma. [They're] going to another area, [like] into Dallas, the Metroplex, around those areas. [Even] San Antonio, we've had a lot move down that way also," Weary said.

He also said they make scheduling adjustments to combat a worker shortage.

"If we have to pull shifts, we'll pull shifts if we're low in staff for some reason," Weary said.

Weary said the biggest problem with the constant change of employees is its impact on resident care.

"If it's a new nurse coming aboard, they're going to have to explain their care to them," Weary said.

He said some of their nurses have been at the nursing home for years while others leave in a few months.

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