The Massachusetts healthcare system is in crisis. An estimated 19,000 acute care hospital positions are unfilled. Wait times have increased as hundreds of patients are boarding in emergency departments and other units. Hospitals are seeing unprecedented backups in transferring patients to post-acute care settings, as well as skyrocketing labor costs – including a projected $1 billion in travel labor costs this year alone – to recruit and retain the workers who make their facilities run.
The effect on access and costs is real. These challenges, which are resulting in care delays and reduced access to services, are now evident to many patients and families entering a healthcare facility or trying to address their care needs. Yet the direct connections between workforce shortages, capacity constraints, and financial losses — which are more extreme than ever — are often misunderstood by those outside of the healthcare system.
MHA, its membership, state leaders, and other partners are working daily to address these challenges in a direct, highly collaborative manner. This report, which summarizes the results of a recent workforce survey, is intended to illustrate the relationship between these challenges and to help inform ongoing efforts to grow the commonwealth’s base of healthcare professionals.