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Thu, May 19

Community View | Support HB2691, the healthcare workforce bill

As we collectively consider whether our local hospitals may return to what we would call normal course of care, the actual return to “normal” isn’t as easy as it sounds. Our work offering the best healthcare within our communities continues and we are doing this while experiencing a critical staff shortage, especially with nurses. We have physical beds available to care for our local citizens, but when we don’t have enough nurses to staff those beds, they really don’t mean much.

This workforce shortage started well before COVID-19 impacted our communities throughout Mohave County and was exacerbated by the pandemic. The entire experience gave real meaning to the term “employee burnout.” We saw many nurses retire or leave the profession due to stress and life balance which ultimately left us with a completely unsustainable staff shortage.

We are not alone in Mohave County. A recent report published in Becker’s Hospital Review this January ranks Arizona in the top five states experiencing the worst nurse staffing shortage.

A bill currently moving through the Arizona State Legislature aims to help fix this. The healthcare workforce bill, HB2691, is a comprehensive approach to growing our nursing workforce by funding nurse education and training aimed to help us develop the next generation of skilled and committed nursing professionals.

Passing this bill into law is absolutely necessary. We have done all we can to retain the great healthcare professionals who care for patients in our hospitals. We are working on all creative and “outside of the box” ideas to recruit new staff. It is now time for the state to step in with this comprehensive solution for Arizona. We cannot meet our state’s current healthcare needs and meet the needs of a rapidly growing population if we don’t invest in training more healthcare workers.

Your Mohave County hospitals want to be there for you in the event of an emergency. Care in our hospitals is safe, but our ability to provide safe care is in jeopardy. We need help. This bill is a great start.

(Will McConnell is CEO at Kingman Regional Medical Center. Mike Patterson is Market CEO for Havasu Regional Medical Center and Valley View Medical Center. Dr. Stacy Klippenstein is President of Mohave Community College.)

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