First responders around the country paid a heavy emotional and physical toll during those crucial days combating COVID-19, especially those healthcare professionals on the front lines, fighting to save lives within hospitals and nursing homes. Nationwide, more than 100,000 registered nurses left the industry because of emotional burnout and stress, during those dark and turbulent days.
In the Garden State, the nursing shortage has reached critical mass as over 13,000 unfilled vacancies, making New Jersey one of the top 10-leading states dealing with a massive nursing deficit.
To help bridge that gap, Rep. Josh Gottheimer announced that after negotiations with federal and local government officials as well as leading members within the healthcare community, the House and Senate were able to hammer out a $3.8 million federal aid package earmarked directly towards combating New Jersey’s nursing shortage crisis.
Nationwide Nursing Shortage
The funds are slated for Holy Name’s Sister Claire Tynan School of Nursing, committed to training dozens of additional nurses every year. This new federally funded investment will help Holy Name grow and accelerate their future nursing class size to meet New Jersey’s historic applicant levels.
“The COVID pandemic left behind a record level of burnout and our nation is facing a record nursing shortage, including right here in New Jersey. This is pure pandemic burnout—and the nursing shortage is a five-alarm fire for health care in our state and nation,” said Gottheimer.
Holy Name Program
According to Gottheimer and Holy Name officials, the federal dollars will help the Sister Claire Tynan School of Nursing train more nurses, toward more faculties that includes simulation training for students, additional supplies and equipment, and help keep the cost of an education more affordable.
“This will help Holy Name grow their future nursing school class size to meet historic applicant levels. We’re helping create a pipeline for medical professionals working in Jersey — to keep doctors and nurses in the state,” said the North Jersey politician.
Currently, aside from the 100,000 registered nurses leaving the profession, another 800,000 are planning to leave by 2027. Studies also predict that within the next two years, a massive shortage of up to 450,000 bedside nurses within the U.S., along with an additional shortfall of nearly 11,500 nurses in New Jersey by the year 2030.
Healthcare professionals agree that COVID-19 greatly contributed to a large number of nurses leaving the workforce because of pandemic burnout; however, an aging population has also stretched the limits of nursing care, as well as an aging workforce and a critical lack of potential educators.
“It’s up to us to provide the best education, help build the pipeline of clinicians, and provide the top-notch care all patients deserve,” said President and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center Michael Maron.
“The funding secured by Congressman Gottheimer in the TRAIN Act is critical going forward as we are positioned to train more nurses in the in the future.”
Meanwhile at the state level, State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25) is offering legislation that will help bolster employment in New Jersey’s healthcare industry.
Bucco’s bill, S-3121, requires the state’s commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, in consultation with the Department of Health and healthcare stakeholders, to create a program and standards that would identify, recruit, and train unemployed individuals to work in the healthcare industry.
“The loss of valuable heroes within the healthcare sector is a disturbing trend that is projected to worsen if we are unable to bolster employment opportunities in the industry,” said Bucco (R-25). “Healthcare professionals have endured a disproportionate amount of mental and physical stress due to staffing shortages and industry challenges stemming from the pandemic“
Recruiting Healthcare Workers
The bill is specifically designed for those potential healthcare candidates, who require additional assistance. In particular certain potential barriers that might prevent some individuals the ability to travel to and from their expected workplace, and other potential barriers that would prevent the individual from starting work immediately.
“The urgency to maintain a high standard of healthcare in New Jersey cannot be overstated,” Bucco stressed. “A robust healthcare industry plays a vital role in safeguarding the health and well-being of all New Jerseyans.”
“This bill paves the way for the Department of Labor to address the shortage of healthcare workers by developing a program that would improve staffing at hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the state.”