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Long-term care facilities' employee shortage continues

As the pandemic drags on, so does the shortage of employees at long-term care facilities.

MAINE, USA — We've reported on the shortage of health care workers before, and those in the industry say it's not going away, especially for long term care facilities.

In a November 2020 interview with Jonathan Henry from the University of Maine at Augusta, he said the state is expected to lose thousands of nurses to retirement in the next five years.

"For the long term care facilities, staffing was a problem far before COVID-19," Rick Erb from Maine Health Care Association told NEWS CENTER Maine.

Erb added that Maine has the highest staffing requirement in the country for nursing homes and assisted living facilities because the Maine legislature signed a bill more than 20 years ago to reserve nursing home level of care for people who have the highest needs, which requires the highest number of staff.

The need for skilled workers has led to a number of new nursing programs at the state's colleges and universities over the last few years.

RELATED: New nursing program helping to combat nursing shortage

It's not just nurses and aides many facilities need, but according to reports filed with federal regulators, more than 20 percent of nursing homes in the state say they're short on other staff as well. 

"I think we all need to come out of this remembering how difficult this was and building our workforce for the future before anything like this ever happens again," Erb said.

Maine DHHS is working to do just that, with its new Connect to Care program.

It's an opportunity to connect trained healthcare staff to nursing homes and assisted living jobs across the state.

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