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Occupancy Increases Slightly but Held Back by Staffing Challenges

The Long-Term Care Imperative recently completed an analysis of care center occupancy for the first quarter of this year. Compared to last year, it shows some improvement but nothing close to a return to pre-pandemic occupancy levels.

The statewide occupancy percentage in the first quarter was 76.2%, up from a near all-time low of 75.7% in the final quarter of last year. The recovery is not happening equally across the state, however. In the first quarter, the Twin Cities Metro area and the northern part of the state were all above the state average, while the other rural regions were struggling. The southeast region is particularly suffering right now, setting an all-time low for any area with only 69.7% occupancy in the first quarter.

Staffing shortages are a significant factor in the slow occupancy recovery, and those shortages have been acute for several months now. In Jan., 77.7% of providers reported limiting census because of staffing shortages, which improved slightly this time to 70.6%. Staffing shortages are especially acute in rural areas. In West Central and Southeast regions, more than 80% of care centers reported having to limit census due to lack of staffing.

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