Nursing Shortage Challenges Colorado Hospitals

It has become common knowledge that nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care agencies struggle to maintain adequate staffing of health care workers to serve older Coloradans. (See AgeWise Colorado article on this at https://agewisecolorado.org/blog/for-older-coloradans-caregiver-numbers-are-falling-short-of-caregiving-demand/.) Now an August 2023 article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal (CSBJ) details a similar challenge facing the state’s hospitals at a time when the need for geriatric care keeps growing. Cara Welch, senior director of communications at the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA), is quoted as saying hospitals continue to “plan and adjust” for the changing population. A chief nursing officer at UCHealth notes the COVID pandemic saw “upwards of 25%” in nurse turnover, and Cary Vogrin, media relations specialist at UCHealth, adds that more and more of the current healthcare workforce is nearing retirement. CHA projects a shortage of 10,000 RNs in the next five years statewide. To incentivize people to work in healthcare, UCHealth launched an Ascend Career Program in 2022, which fully funds tuition for select healthcare jobs. In May 2023, a legislative bill began what’s called the “Career Advance Colorado” program, which provides free tuition for in-demand jobs, with nursing being on the list of such jobs.

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