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Healthcare facilities and the staff who work there play an awfully important role in keeping their communities safe and healthy. However, their support involves more than healing broken bones and providing medication for their patients. Mental health services and addiction treatment are both just as important for the industry, as they help keep patients mentally well and safe from harmful substances.

Given how a large percentage of adults in the United States experience some form of mental illness, which is only on the rise, psychiatrists and doctors will be needed more than ever to help maintain the wellness of their patients. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created extraordinary employee shortages in the healthcare industry that’s causing severe problems for workers and the patients they work so hard to care for. Healthcare staffing shortages and addiction treatment are connected in many ways, so let’s review how they’ve been impacting each other.

Healthcare Shortages and Addiction Center Strain

The therapists and psychiatrists who handle addiction have an important responsibility to keep their patients safe. But with that said, their positions require an assortment of professional skills, experiences, and a lot of hard work. Because of this, it has grown more challenging for addiction treatment centers to find the experts to fill the roles that they need so much. Many states across the country have begun to experience increasingly low provider-to-patient ratios, meaning that there aren’t enough providers around to help the large number of patients. This issue has sadly caused numerous important programs to close down.

With so many vacancies needing to be filled, some locations in the United States are experiencing a statewide staffing crisis. To make up for these unprecedented shortages, healthcare employees have been forced to take on more patients than they’re capable of handling at once. This strained situation is not only making it harder for employees to offer an adequate amount of time for the patients they care for but enough time for themselves to relax and regain their strength. As one could expect, this has caused many healthcare providers to become burnt out both physically and emotionally.

Of course, healthcare employees at addiction and mental health centers aren’t the only ones suffering due to the immense strain. Because of healthcare shortages and addiction center strain, care isn’t being provided to the patients who need it the most. Ever since the pandemic first began in 2020, the number of available beds available for addiction patients to use has dropped considerably around the country. Additionally, one state has even documented that there was a 14% increase in people who died after an accidental opioid overdose, and they aren’t alone.

Healthcare Employee Shortages and Substance Abuse: A Compounded Problem

So, with the endangerment of lives of the patients with addiction and mental health struggles and the overly stressed working conditions of their care providers, what’s the cause of the country’s rise in staff shortages? There are a variety of factors causing the problem, many of which stem from the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, one notable cause relates to the absence of professionals at addiction centers: a rise in substance abuse.

The population of working people in the United States hasn’t reached its pre-pandemic levels yet, even outside of the healthcare industry. One of the reasons why is increased substance use disorders. Addictions to opioids, methamphetamine, and other drugs have already kept people out of the workforce, but the percentages increased even higher once the pandemic hit. Those who used opioids participated in the labor force by 13% less, and those who used methamphetamines dropped by 16%.

Since the onset of the pandemic, there was an estimated increase of 2.8 million substance abusers; but what caused such a depressing rise in these numbers? Part of the problem ties back to the healthcare shortages and addiction center strain. Due to the absence of available medical care, especially in more rural areas, many patients suffering from addictions aren’t receiving the treatment when they need it the most.

Combatting Staffing Shortages in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare shortages and addiction, and mental health struggles are problems that feed off each other and will only grow worse if they are not addressed. So how can employee shortages and substance abuse issues be resolved? A few answers have been found. Some unions in the country have asked their state government to offer better pay and benefits to healthcare workers, and many hospitals have begun to raise employee payments as well. In some cases, healthcare facilities have started to overhaul their workplace model and alter the hiring methods to fight against the industries’ increased vacancies.

One notable method of improving the working conditions in healthcare environments is by installing new technologies and softwares to make the workflow easier on the strained employees. MedTrainer’s cloud-based software is one such program that can ease the burden of overworked hospitals. We offer a variety of services, such as our credentialing management programs and healthcare compliance software, to make the workload at your healthcare facility much easier to handle. Reach out to MedTrainer for more information and schedule a personalized demo of our all-in-one software solution.