Pa. facing nursing home workforce shortage as state's senior population grows

WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - Pennsylvania is facing a nursing home workforce shortage, while at the same time, the state's senior population is growing rapidly.

How do you fix it? 

By 2040, a quarter of Pennsylvanians will be 65 or older, presenting an imminent and unique challenge for nursing homes.

"All the levels of care all the way up to nursing home care are definitely probably are going to have to expand in order to keep up with what's the need is going to be," said Mary Kay McMahon, president and CEO of Fellowship Community in Whitehall Township. 

A new report from Auditor General Eugene DePasquale finds that there is a serious workforce shortage in geriatric care.

The main challenge is wages, which are hard to increase when the state has limited Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

In a statement to 69 News, state Rep. Mike Schlossberg agreed funding should increase.

"We have to attract more workers to this field to provide for patient care," he said.

"There is definitely a correlation between staffing and quality," McMahon said.

State Sen. Mario Scavello agrees, but takes a slightly different approach.

"Absolutely more funding should go into nursing to care, but I would like to see more of those dollars going towards at-home care,"  he said.

Regardless of how it's done, it will have to be done.

"It costs a lot of money to provide this level of care," McMahon said.

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