(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com)– Healthcare workers including physicians, hospital administrators, nurses and paramedics voiced their numerous staffing challenges at the House Democratic Policy Committee hearing held Thursday at McCandless Town Hall near Pittsburgh.

The hearing was hosted by PA State Representative Arvind Venkat (D-Allegheny), who is also an emergency physician and the first physician to serve in the PA General Assembly in nearly 60 years.

“While the pandemic did not cause these issues, it crystalized the problem in a way where the public became acutely aware of its importance. As we saw when we peeled back layers of the issue today, addressing one issue often calls for the need to find a solution to several more related issues. No one regulation, no one piece of legislation will quickly solve the staffing crisis, but greater understanding and vigilant work at the state level could help alleviate some of these challenges,” Rep. Venkat said in a release.

State Representative Ryan Bizarro (D-Erie) was also present at the hearing along with State Representative Bridget Kosierowski (D-Lackawanna) and also expressed his thoughts on the matter.

“This hearing highlighted numerous issues that need addressed, including the frightening and sometimes overlooked rise in violence toward health care professionals – the very people we need to be protecting and supporting,” Bizarro said.

The following topics and issues were also discussed at the event:

  • The need for more bedside nurses. 
  • The ability of nurses to leave bedside care for higher-paying jobs.   
  • The need for more qualified health care educators in order to train students to be nurses. 
  • The need for ideal nurse-to-patient ratios. 
  • The potential challenges with strict nurse-to-patient ratios. 
  • The bottlenecks and stresses created by patients staying longer at hospitals because nursing home and elder care facilities are at capacity due in part to those facilities’ dramatic job losses. 
  • The reimbursement issues when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid. 

This was the first townhall was the first event held by the House Democratic Policy Committee, events that include hearings, roundtable discussions and tours in Allegheny County over the next three weeks.