Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner today called on Governor McKee to take immediate action to address the dangerous hospital staffing shortage that has created a state of crisis in Rhode Island emergency rooms and other care delivery facilities across the state. This crisis has been unaddressed for too long, threatening the health and economy of our state.
"Rhode Island's health care system is at a breaking point, with patients having to wait hours in emergency waiting rooms, and care providers stretched thin," said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "The situation requires urgent action, and what I am proposing today can make the difference between life and death for many Rhode Islanders. Governor McKee is once again moving too slowly in reacting to the facts on the ground. Our state needs leadership in this time of crisis, and it is my hope that he will consider these actions."
For over a month, Treasurer Magaziner has been calling to use federal funding to boost compensation for nurses, CNAs, and techs in healthcare settings. Staff burnout from the emotional exhaustion of the last two years has created a severe shortage of critical care workers. It is important to note that vaccine mandates are not a significant cause of staffing shortages at hospitals where compliance rates to the mandates have been very high.
Treasurer Magaziner is proposing the following to address the emergency room staffing shortage:
• Use federal stimulus funding to immediately boost compensation for nurses, CNAs, and techs in emergency room settings. • Call up the National Guard to assist with administrative and technician functions, freeing up nurses to focus on the work only they can do. Ohio [r20.rs6.net]did this on Saturday. • Grant temporary reciprocity for healthcare workers with medical licenses in neighboring states. • Temporarily suspend licensing requirements to allow certain trained medical professionals such as EMTs, paramedics, and retired nurses to assist in hospitals. • Ensure all hospital employees have access to counseling services to help them cope with the burnout they are experiencing.
Treasurer Magaziner noted that in addition to these short-term actions, the state must address the structural issues that created staffing shortages even before the pandemic.
Rhode Island must prioritize building out the talent pipeline for care delivery by investing in training healthcare workers. This includes increased support of the nursing programs at URI and RIC as well as more alternative workforce credentialing programs and high school CTE programs to train technicians and other healthcare workers, providing them with competitive compensation and student loan forgiveness to retain talent.