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Area hospitals see a shortage in healthcare workers

By 2030, the World Health Organization predicts a worldwide workforce shortage of 18 million healthcare workers. Medical experts said the consequences could be deadly.
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Another potentially devastating issue looms in the healthcare industry, after area hospitals see a significant shortage in staff.

By 2030, the World Health Organization predicts a worldwide workforce shortage of about 18 million healthcare workers. This presents deadly consequences for patients, the economy and our community. Medical experts at SwedishAmerican Hospital in Rockford said they already see the impacts.

“We’ve hired more people in the past two years than we ever have,” Ashley Pond, SwedishAmerican Hospital Manager of Nursing and Professional Development said.

Ashley Pond has been with SwedishAmerican Hospital for more than 10 years. She has worked as the Manager of Nursing and Professional Development for 5. She said she’s never seen a shortage in healthcare workers this severe in her career.

“We’re still working and trying our best to get as much nursing staff as we can,” Pond said.

Last year, SwedishAmerican hired more than 344 nurses. This year alone, they’ve hired more than 110 nurses. Despite their efforts to bulk up their staff, they still see a shortage. But why?

“I think we’re catching up from the delay that happened over the past year,” Pond said. “Patients put off seeing their primary and wellness checks.”

Understandably so, Pond said. But now those patients are coming into the hospital discovering they have serious, or even chronic illnesses.

“It’s a huge impact,” Pond said. “We’ve had to get really creative in providing solutions.”

Pond said the problem became acute more recently, due to the aging population.

“The acuity of those patients and the care hours that are required for those patients require us to have more staff,” Pond said.

Medical experts warn it could get more dire from here on out. The American Association of Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of as many as 122 thousand physicians by 2032. The solution, Pond said, is to draw people into the field.

“It’s one of the best jobs,” Pond said. “You get to see the beginning of the life to the end of the life.”

Pond advised people to continue visiting their primary care doctor, so if a potential illness is lingering, they can catch it early. An online publication by Duquesne University School of Nursing said another solution is to consider offering online healthcare degrees and certificates.

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