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Kentucky nurses ask for $100 million to end shortage

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 18:19:23-05

FRANKFORT, ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky nurses are asking state lawmakers for millions of dollars to help end a nursing shortage.

The Kentucky Nurses Association's (KNA) organized a letter-writing campaign to help sway lawmakers to invest in more resources to retain local nurses.

"A lot of our nurses are being, for lack of better words, poached to go outside of the state of Kentucky to travel agencies. And so, it's really leaving the Commonwealth in dire need," said Board-certified nurse executive DeeDee McCallie.

McCallie says burnout, workload, and stress have plagued nurses since the pandemic began. KNA surveyed in October where they learned 25% of nurses plan to leave their jobs in the next three months. They surveyed 850 nurses.

"I think that as we are entering now, almost a two-year pandemic. I think the pandemic has really taken its toll," McCallie said. "Our nurses are telling us they're exhausted, they're weary. They are saddened by all the death, not just patients but of family members and co-workers."

"I think they're also hopeful that if we can get some of this money to the state to be poured back into Kentucky and to nurses, but it will give them hope that they will be compensated for the job that they are in," said McCallie.

The Kentucky Nurses Association Nursing Shortage Task Force outlined a plan that calls for $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. Kentucky received $2.6 billion. Some of the funding has already been allocated. Lawmakers set aside $1.3 billion during the state legislative session earlier this year.

  • $20 million dedicated to faculty retention, recruitment, and reward for NCLEX pass rates and graduation rates. Colleges and school of nursing councils to research why schools of nursing seats are unfilled.
  • $20 million dedicated to loan forgiveness for nursing faculty, students, graduate nurses to work in underserved areas 2021-2026 and a CHFS application for the loan forgiveness grant through HRSA- 1 million a year in addition to this request.
  • $10 million dedicated to nurse emeritus program to use retired nurses for support, augment staffing needs and retain novice nurses.
  • $50 million dedicated to retention bonuses (incremental) only for local nurses who have stayed in the community to serve. Recruitment and marketing campaign that enhances the image of nursing and entices students to go to nursing school while ensuring current nurses feel recognized, gratitude and valued.

They're hoping to get the support of the community by writing to lawmakers.

"Those people in the community are one day going to be the patients that are going to need the nurses to take care of them," said McCallie.