Here's just the latest example of why forcing health-care workers to get vaccines and boosters - like the State of New York is still doing - is an untenable policy at best, and a stepping stone to disaster at worse.
Bloomberg reports that a chain of nursing homes in Iowa has just been forced into bankruptcy, placing even more strain on the creaking local health-care system, due to "crippling" staff shortages.
Court documents reflect how the company, QHC Facilities LLC, which hosts a total of 750 beds across its 8 nursing homes and two assisted living facilities, has been devastated by the twin pressures of COVID deaths among its patients (many of whom fall into the most susceptible category of patient), and resignations en masse among its workers. One of its homes even made it on to a list of "America's worst nursing homes".
QHC Facilities LLC filed for bankruptcy last week, citing “crippling staffing and employee retention issues” in a court filing. The Clive, Iowa-based company operates eight skilled nursing facilities and two assisted living homes with a total of about 750 beds in the state and 300 workers.
Occupancy rates plunged as Covid-19 spread through nursing homes, which accounted for a large proportion of deaths early in the pandemic. At the same time, the health-care sector has suffered from mass resignations as workers face burnout and seek more lucrative employment, contributing to swelling gaps in coverage.
Fortunately for the state's health-care system, a judge back in November blocked a federal vaccine mandate for health-care workers in Iowa and eight other states. Clearly, that was a prescient decision.
To be sure, the company was struggling even before the pandemic. Local media reports out of Iowa showed QHC Facilities had been fined many times in recent years for substandard patient care.
But some of the obstacles facing the firm were completely out of its control.
One of its facilities was damaged in a strong storm in 2020 and still hasn’t been rebuilt. The death of the company’s co-founder in June "had a devastating impact" on the business, his spouse and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Voyna said in the filing, leaving unmet obligations including a $4 million state fee.
The company is seeking a buyer for its assets. But with all the additional government scrutiny brought on by COVID, who really wants to get into the nursing home game right now?