ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York hospitals are in “critical condition”, according to a report from the Healthcare Association. The report shows a statewide healthcare worker shortage as well as uncontrollable expense increases.

“Two thirds of a hospital’s budget is related to payroll, the amount that is paid for qualified healthcare workers is a significant part of the expense,” said Bea Grause, president of the Healthcare Association of NYS.

The report says COVID-19 placed extraordinary stress on the nation’s health care system. With a worker shortage and unpredictable market changes, this leaves hospitals serving only the most vulnerable patients. 

Grause says it’s a combination of the pandemic and an aging workforce that’s left hospitals short staffed. 

“Many health care workers who were close to retirement did retire, many health care workers left health care all together and went to work in a totally different setting. So you know, that really did drive it for the shortage that we face today,” she said.

Grause says the vacancy rates are upwards of 20 to 25%. Positions for nurses, technicians, and respiratory therapists all need to be filled. But is there a specific area that has it the worse?

“Particularly in rural markets where there just simply are not enough qualified health care staff in the region to staff the hospital for the services they currently provide and those are the facilities that have to fly in or bring in contract labor, which is at an extreme premium,” said Grause.

When asked at a press conference on Thursday, how this issue would be addressed moving forward, Gov. Kathy Hochul said: “We know what they need, we’re hearing from them constantly and we’re going to be able to help to a certain degree but we also have to take a good look at all of our hospitals and say you know before you get this substantial amount of money let’s look at how you’re managing your finances as well.”

Grause said to alleviate this issue, hospitals need continued funding, flexibility to hire out-of-state workers, and no new policies that would cut hospital reimbursement or increased hospital costs.