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Nursing homes lost 145,000 workers from 2020-2021, U.S. report says

The federal government issued a report showing that nursing homes have been impacted by the workforce shortage to a larger degree than other sectors within health care. The report also touched on the mental health struggles facing these workers. 

The report from the  Department of Health and Human Services found that from December 2020 to December 2021, hospital employment fell by nearly 33,000, while nursing homes lost upwards of 145,000 workers. 

The report hit on another issue: increased  worker burnout, exhaustion and trauma. David Voepel is with the Arizona Health Care Association.

"There were people dying and they couldn't do anything about it," he said. "And they were struggling even to get proper equipment, the PPE. Then the federal government, it's even more demoralizing: The federal government says we're sending you gowns and the gowns are cheap, and they're old and they're outdated," Voeple said. 

Voepel called the last two years a domino effect and says the people who left the long-term care field are not coming back.

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.