FENTON, Michigan – As the coronavirus pandemic rises across the country and infections and hospitalizations increase, health managers are trying to get enough nurse’s help – especially in rural areas and in diseases. small institute.
Nurses are being trained to provide care in areas where they have limited experience. Hospitals are shrinking services to ensure there are enough staff to handle critically ill patients. And health systems are turning to short-term travel nurses to help fill the gaps.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, an emergency room nurse at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, says “are exhausted from this whole (pandemic)”; and some are quitting. in hospice or home care or in outpatient clinics.
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“And replacing them is not easy,” said Fitzpatrick.
As a result, he said, ER is operating with about five nurses lacking relative to its optimal level at any given time, and each person typically cares for four patients as COVID-19 admissions increase. up. Hospital officials did not respond to requests for comment.
But according to experts, the departure is not surprising, considering not just the mental loss but the fact that many nurses trained in acute care are over 50 years old and are at risk of complications. It is higher if they have COVID-19, while younger nurses often have children or other families to worry about.
“Who can really work and who feels safe at work is limited by meaning,” said Karen Donelan, professor of US health policy at the School of Management and Social Policy at Brandeis University. family to protect their own health. “All of those things factor.”
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Donelan said there is very little data to date on how the pandemic, which has killed more than 231,000 people in the country, is affecting nursing in general. However, some hospitals have been in shortages even before the virus developed, despite the increase in the number of nurses nationwide over the past decade.
With the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections surpassing 9 million in the US and new daily infections growing in 47 states, demand is only growing.
Wausau, Wisconsin-based Aspirus Healthcare company is offering $ 15,000 in contractual bonuses to nurses with at least one year of experience and hiring contracted nurses through private companies. the private sector to handle the increase in hospital admissions has caused the system to nearly quadruple the number of dedicated COVID beds -19 patients.
Ruth Risley-Gray, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Aspirus, said Aspirus, which operates five hospitals in Wisconsin and four hospitals in small communities on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is also on the move. Nurses between departments and facilities when hot spots appear.
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Risley-Gray says there is still a need for outside help, partly because some nurses have been ill or exposed to the cornavirus virus during the current wave, which “comes with vengeance” which started from May 8. At one point in mid-October, 215 employees were quarantined following symptoms or being exposed to someone with a positive test result, and a few had just started returning to work.
Aspirus has recently been able to hire 18 nurses from outside agencies, and more may be needed if the spike continues.
April Hansen, executive vice president of Aya Healthcare based in San Diego, said that as a pandemic is outbreaking around the country, hospitals across the country are competing to get the same medical team. nurses, with wages from 1,500 USD / week to more than 5,000 USD, where the recruitment and deployment of tourist nurses.
She said demand for their services has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic when demand was greatest in hot spots like New York and New Jersey and then moved to southern states. In recent weeks, the virus has risen dramatically across the country, with new hotspots in places like the rural upper Midwest and southern border communities like El Paso, Texas.
Now, putting nurses where they need to be “is like a giant game of a mole,” said Hansen, who has about 20,000 opportunities to hire contract nurses.
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In North Dakota, where infection rates are booming, hospitals could cut elective surgeries and seek government aid to hire more nurses if things get worse, president North Dakota Hospital Association, Tim Blasl said.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott recently announced that he has sent 75 nurses and respiratory therapists to El Paso to help deal with the city’s spike. Meanwhile, the Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, has issued an emergency order to make it easier for nurses from elsewhere to practice in his state and to return retired nurses.
“This is a challenge and we have begged community members to protect themselves and others” by wearing a mask and staying away from society, says Aspirus’s Risley-Gray, who says the rate is positive. Aspirus-tested among community members increased. from less than 10% in September to 24% last week.
To combat emotional trauma and fatigue in COVID-19 patient care, including wearing and removing protective equipment all day long, Aspirus provided nurses with micro baths and Quiet places to stay away and tidy up when they feel overwhelmed.
The demand in smaller hospitals tends to be higher in larger facilities, said tourism nurses.
Robert Gardner, who is currently assigned to a hospital in a small town about 20 miles west of Atlanta, said he did a search and rescue in the Coast Guard during Hurricane Katrina and the pandemic was “much worse. much.”
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He worked at a big hospital in New Jersey when that state was covered with the virus in the spring, and now he’s worried that the flu season could bring even more chaos to the hospitals. But he’s still determined to do it, no matter what.
“That’s not even a question,” Gardner said. “Nursing is a call.”