New York’s Oswego County to Shut Down Hospice Agency

The legislature of Oswego County in New York state has voted to close its hospice agency within a year. The county’s hospice program is the latest casualty of the nursing shortage that has rendered a number of organizations unsustainable.

Like many providers nationwide, the Oswego agency has been plagued by nurses resigning, leaving them with an insufficient number of clinicians trained in hospice and palliative care. The county decided not to recruit nurses from other clinical specialties for fears of creating similar shortages at other points in the health care continuum, according to comments made at the legislators’ recent meeting.

“We’ve reached a point with our hospice program that due to mainly salary of what we paid our nurses, they have been resigning. In fact, I’ve just become aware today that we lost another LPN in the Health Department to wages,” Legislator James Karasek, chairman of the Health Committee, said at the meeting, local news reported. “It’s difficult to compete against what the private industry is doing. … We have got to a point we would no longer be able to take on new patients.”


This action is among the latest that signal the toll that the workforce shortage is having on nearly every hospice provider in the nation, as well as the larger health care sector. A number of providers have had to make changes, or even close, due to labor pressures.

An Iowa provider, simply called Hospice, closed its inpatient house as of Dec. 31, 2021, also citing staffing concerns. The organization will continue to provide care in patient homes, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

The Idaho-based Minidoka Memorial Hospital’s home health and hospice program was shuttered in September of last year, also due to insufficient staffing. In Oregon, Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics recently closed its hospice program due to labor shortages.


The Dare County Board of Commissioners in North Carolina last year sold its local home health and hospice agency to BrightSpring Health Services for $2.9 million. Louisville, Kentucky.-based BrightSpring is a portfolio company of the global investment and private equity firm KKR & Co.

A range of other providers have remained open, but shut down inpatient units or scaled back services due to the dwindling workforce.

The Oswego County hospice currently has six patients remaining under its care. Karasek said the one-year closure plan will give the hospice time to rebound if more resources become available.

“We are not abandoning the program. We are filing a closure plan with the state,” Karasek said according to the local report. “This does buy us time that if all the stars align and nurses apply, and we find a way to make this a better job, we can pull that closure plan back at any moment just with a phone call and retain the hospice program.”

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