Quick relief for nursing shortage not likely

Fitch Ratings reports that the shortage of nurses and other personnel continues to present one of the greatest challenges for health care providers nationwide. Fitch says that while many hospitals are developing innovative strategies for work force development, and federal, state and local governments are creating programs and providing financial support to help alleviate shortages, the benefits of many of these initiatives may not be realized for years.

The credit rating agency expects providers to continue to experience inflating salary and benefit expenses with growing use of temporary staffing and competitive pressure to increase overall compensation. Fitch expects labor cost inflation to offset any improvement in other areas from operational efficiencies or favorable rate increases from managed care payers, prolonging credit quality improvement for many hospitals. The Nursing Shortage Update report can be found at www.fitchratings.com. Click on "US Public Finance," then "Special Reports."