Panelists at the Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health’s recent edition of their monthly lecture series looked at the consequences of the pandemic for rural health care workers.
Gateway Research Associate and keynote speaker, Cassandra Bryant, says the pandemic had a significant impact on rural health care workers and definitely exposed some weaknesses in the system that existed even before the pandemic.
“I feel that it has definitely exposed some of those weaknesses or challenges that were always there, but somehow just flew under the radar or had that band aid solution work and now we see that it’s not the case anymore,” said Bryant.
Bryant says health care workers are still dealing with a lot of pressure and some of that comes from the fact that if they’re feeling burnt out.
One of the challenges is the shortage of health care workers and in particular, nurses. Bryant says that as far back as 2005 experts were predicting there would be a shortage, particularly of nurses.
“And that was without putting a pandemic in the mix and there were other studies that were done just before the pandemic, saying by 2030 the nursing shortage or health shortage, is even going to be more and again, pre-pandemic and so we know that there is a shortage,” added Bryant.
“The recruitment piece is very, very, important, but the retention should have priority. So that means taking a look, having conversations and finding out what health care workers need, right now especially, but as we move forward.”
Bryant says there has to be a better way for the health care system to operate and they have to look at how the government funds health care.
And she adds mental health is going to become an even bigger challenge in the future as health care workers generally and nurses in particular, continue to deal with staff shortages.
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