News 4 Tucson spoke with nursing homes and assisted living centers in the area and all of them say they have gone through the same staffing issues.
Via Elegante says when the staffing issues initially started it was when caregivers would contract COVID-19 starting in March of 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic.
“At that point, we saw a lot of employees either leaving and not returning or just they’re returning but they’re out for multiple weeks at a time,” said Ira Branson, Executive Director at Via Elegante.
Some employees left indefinitely due to family concerns, not wanting to work on the front lines of health care or even finding an opportunity that pays better.
With fewer people wanting to work, Via Elegante and many others across Tucson were left with a lot of demand but no staff to meet it.
For those who continued working in the industry the amount of work that was needed with the increasing demand was overwhelming.
“It was chaotic, it was a lot, we were very short-staffed some of us were working doubles, some of us were working seven days a week, so it was a lot,” said Martell Rosenberg, a certified caregiver at Via Elegante.
According to a national survey done by the American Health Association, nearly every nursing home (99%) and assisted living community (96%) is asking staff to work overtime or extra shifts.
More than half (58%) of nursing homes are limiting new admissions due to staffing shortages.
Via Elegante is in a much better position than most. Currently, their staffing levels are closer to normal and to get there they have increased wages by around 25 percent, which has helped members of the team feel valued and supported.
“It’s really recognizing that the most important part of this organization is the caregivers. It’s not me, it’s not even my director team, it’s the caregivers,” said Andy Briefer, CEO of Via Elegante. They hope that the worst is behind them but many places in Tucson are still struggling to fill vacancies.
Meanwhile, Via Elegante says their focus is on making sure their employees are taken care of. Other nursing homes and assisted living centers News 4 Tucson spoke with declined to interview.
For more information about assisted living, call Via Elegante today.