D.C. officials this week announced a task force to come up with short- and long-term solutions to a health care worker shortage in the nation’s capital.
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the creation of the task force on Monday at Forest Hills of DC, an assisted living facility in Northwest.
The Healthcare Workforce Task Force is made up of some area’s biggest health care providers, universities and city officials.
Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of D.C. Health, said the group will tackle a problem that is not new, but has been made worse by COVID-19.
“The pandemic has exacerbated and caused stress on our health care system in the District and exacerbated those challenges that were there before,” Nesbitt said.
Nesbitt said critical care and home health care are among the areas seeing a more than 20% vacancy rate in the city.
The task force will be co-chaired by Dr. Wayne Fredrick, president of Howard University, and Anita Jenkins, CEO of Howard University Hospital. Recommendations are due in fall.
“We need good people who are going to work across all of our facilities, especially our senior care facilities,” Bowser said. “We need to recruit them, train them, support them, pay them well and make sure that they have a career ladder to serve some of our most special people in Washington, D.C.”
In addition to the task force, the city created a High Need Healthcare Career Scholarship Program aimed at bringing in nurses, paramedics, emergency room techs, home health care workers and direct health care workers.