KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Workforce Faces Challenges With Economic Downturn, Effort To Improve Quality Of Care

The Los Angeles Times: Although healthcare has been one of the most reliable "generators of new jobs in California," the situation is changing. A "lousy economy has caught up with an industry once considered virtually immune to downturns. The sector, which employs about 1 in 10 Californians, has stalled at a time when healthcare employment continues to grow nationally. Gone are the days when nurses received fat signing bonuses. Fewer hospitals are recruiting healthcare workers from abroad, as they did in the early part of the decade. Some are cutting workers' hours, reducing their benefits and even laying off staff" (Semuels, 11/22).

Post-Tribune: The Critical Access Nursing Home Project aims to "improve patient safety and quality of care" by bringing "together professionals from around the state and the nation to assist urban skilled nursing facilities in four states that have faced quality problems and challenges from regulatory agencies." The program targets  'at risk nursing homes in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Georgia." The program "has hired national experts on nursing home staffing to help teach homes how to retain employees and improve morale" (Taylor, 11/21).

The Washington Post reports on "an aggressive strategy by a national nurses union. … Its members are growing in numbers, and they have not been afraid to walk picket lines. The huge costs of hiring temporary nurses -- and likely bad publicity -- have forced institutions like the [Washington Hospital Center] to return to bargaining on staffing and wages. National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the country, has helped organize strikes or threatened them this year at hospitals in California, Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan and Minnesota. The Oakland, Calif.-based union has tapped into concerns of registered nurses worried about losing jobs at a time when hospitals and health-care organizations are under enormous pressure to cut costs (Sun, 11/20).

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