The long-range staffing crisis within South Dakota nursing homes is playing out with devastating consequences in Ipswich, S.D., where the town's only nursing home will soon close and an inspection from 2021 revealed serious deficiencies in how residents were cared for and treated.
Finding a nursing home or long-term care provider for sick or elderly South Dakotans is getting harder due to a financial crisis in the industry driven by high costs associated with COVID-19, a labor shortage fueled by low wages and the ongoing fiscal challenges at facilities trying to remain financially viable.
Residents of long-term care facilities in South Dakota are suffering mental and physical declines due to isolation and sensory deprivation caused by visitation and mobility restrictions put in place to protect them from infection by the deadly coronavirus. The preventative measures have caused anguish for residents and their loved ones, and a recent effort to use federal aid money to implement testing or other measures to mitigate isolation has failed.
Several long-term care facilities have closed and more are likely to shut down as financial challenges deepen. In her first budget address, Gov. Kristi Noem proposed increasing payments to nursing homes and promoted innovation in long-term care.
The adult child payment requirement has been on the books in South Dakota since 1939 and is rarely used. But as nursing homes increasingly face financial struggles, some legal experts say elder-care providers may see it as an avenue to collect unpaid bills.
Economic pressures, low reimbursement rates and staff shortages are contributing to financial stresses for skilled care facilities. Three have closed in recent years and two more are slated for shutdown in February, creating hardships for residents and workers.
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