News10NBC Investigates: What are state lawmakers doing about healthcare staffing shortages?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and home healthcare agencies have been hit hard by staffing shortages locally, backing up our entire healthcare system. When the NYS Vaccine Mandate for healthcare workers went into effect, more than two-dozen long-term care facilities in the Rochester region closed their doors to new admissions, worried about keeping up with the residents they already had.

On Friday, NYS Senator Samra Brouk and Assembly Member Harry Bronson held an event to announce legislation that would prevent caretakers who are found guilty of elder abuse from being able to collect any inheritances from the victim of that abuse.

After the event, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke spoke with both lawmakers about what efforts are being made to address the staffing shortages impacting the eldercare community — that are times driving families to make desperate decisions about long-term care.

Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC) – The Governor has said at some point, there may be some resources available to start with some incentives for folks to get into this industry, is that something that you guys can look at, at a legislative level and are you doing so?

Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D) Rochester – Yeah, it is something we can and should be looking into… we will be holding a hearing, not just to talk about healthcare staffing shortages but all industries in December. We know that elder care and home health aides many of the folks who work in those arenas are women of color so that’s going to be a component of the public hearing but certainly, in assembly we’re going be working on these things and I presume in the Senate as well.

Sen. Samra Brouk, (D) Rochester – As the assembly member said, this is something so much bigger. You can’t look at any industry right now in this country that isn’t suffering in some way from shortages. There were massive shortages before, before we saw the full effects of COVID-19 we were already talking about how do we help recruitment, how do we up retention, address burn-out, wages are low. The Senate has held a number of hearings as well as specifically around eldercare.

Jennifer Lewke – Hearings are great but they’re months away and we’re sort of in a crisis now, is there anything more immediate than that?

Assemblyman Bronson – Well, certainly we have been working on this issue for a long time. We held roundtables in this very building (Lifespan) last year that in part, drove some of the cost-of-living adjustments that we did in the current budget.

Senator Brouk – We did try to do some work in the budget this year to help recruitment and retention, I think the other big piece is we have a lot of federal funding that is coming through and I do believe the Governor understands the need for recruitment and retention incentives to get people in these fields and to keep them.