Delaware Veterans Home Asks for Help Amid Severe Staffing Shortage
Kristina DeRobertis Feb 22, 2023
MILFORD, Del.- Delaware is home to over 70,000 veterans, but the state has struggled to provide the necessary care they require.
The Delaware Department of State recently presented its budget request to the Joint Finance Committee, bringing to light a staffing shortage at the Delaware Veterans Home (DVH).
Last year, a Change.org petition was launched to address workplace issues within the establishment, receiving over 500 signatures from current and former employees.
In response, DVH hired an outside consultant to provide recommendations on how to improve the facility, particularly with regards to staffing.
Despite having the capacity to accommodate about 145 people, the latest census report published in October revealed only 53 occupied beds at the DVH.
The staffing shortage was identified as the primary reason for the significant shortfall, and the 32% turnover rate in 2021.
The nursing home is struggling to retain its employees due to the higher wages offered by private sector healthcare providers, according to Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock.
In the JFC meeting on Feb. 14, he said "if you are a certified nursing assistant in Delaware in the area around Milford, the state pays you about $34,000. If you want to get a job at the hospital down the street, you'll make $41,000. It's over a 20% difference. What are you going to do? You're going to leave."
In a statement, the Veterans Home Administrator stressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, "According to the National Healthcare Association, 1/3 of healthcare professionals left the workforce, and very few students graduated," stated Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Carol Erhart.
Erhart agrees that low salaries are at the heart of the problem, saying "the rate of pay in the state is not competitive compared to the private sector."
If there is any good news, the consultant's report found the quality of care given to veterans at the home is top-notch. DVH simply needs more people willing to provide it.
Currently, the home has 76 open positions.