Hospitals Face Nurse Shortages As COVID Instances Rise: NPR

Andres Veloso, 12, will be vaccinated in Miami on Monday. Florida reports an increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly contagious Delta variant. Marta Lavandier / AP Hide caption

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Marta Lavandier / AP

Andres Veloso, 12, will be vaccinated in Miami on Monday. Florida reports an increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Marta Lavandier / AP

The rapidly escalating surge in COVID-19 infections in the US has resulted in a shortage of nurses and other frontline staff in virus hotspots, unable to keep up with the flood of unvaccinated patients and losing workers to burnout and lucrative absenteeism . state temporary gigs.

Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oregon all have more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other time in the pandemic, and caregivers are under heavy strain.

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In Florida, virus cases have filled so many hospital beds that emergency services and fire departments are scrambling to respond to emergencies. Some patients wait up to an hour in ambulances before being admitted to hospitals in St. Petersburg, Florida – a process that typically takes about 15 minutes, said Barry Burton, district administrator for Pinellas.

A person who had a heart attack was jumped from six hospitals before finding a New Orleans emergency room to take them in, said Joe Kanter, Louisiana’s chief public health officer.

“It’s a really bad situation,” said Kanter. “There just aren’t enough qualified staff in the state to care for all of these patients.”

People line up for COVID-19 tests in North Miami on Monday. Marta Lavandier / AP Hide caption

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People line up for COVID-19 tests in North Miami on Monday.

Marta Lavandier / AP

Michelle Thomas, a registered nurse and emergency department director for a Tucson, Arizona hospital, resigned three weeks ago after crashing into a wall.

“There was never a time when we could just take a deep breath,” said Thomas on Tuesday. “I’ve reached this point … I can’t do this anymore.

She helped other nurses cope with being alone in rooms with dying patients and holding cell phones so family members could say goodbye for good.

“It’s incredibly stressful and traumatic,” said Thomas, unsure if she will ever return to nursing again.

Miami Jackson Memorial Health System, Florida’s largest medical provider, has lost nurses to recruitment agencies, other hospitals, and a pandemic burnout, said Executive Vice President Julie Staub. The hospital’s CEO says nurses are being lured to other states for double and triple the salary.

Staub said system hospitals have started paying retention bonuses to nurses who agree to stay for a period of time. To make up for bottlenecks, nurses who agree to work extra are given the usual one-and-a-half hours for overtime, plus $ 500 for each additional 12-hour shift. Even so, the hospital sometimes still has to turn to agencies to fill vacancies.

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“You see people chasing the dollars,” said Dust. “When they have the flexibility to go somewhere else and live a week, month or whatever and make more money, that’s a very tempting thing to do. I think every health system is confronted with it. “

Nearly 70% of hospitals in Florida expect a critical staff shortage in the next week, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown announced Tuesday that state workers must be fully vaccinated by October 18 or six weeks of receiving full state approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, whichever comes later. Her office planned to announce a nationwide mask requirement for indoor use on Wednesday.

“Oregon is facing a spike in COVID-19 hospital admissions – composed mostly of unvaccinated people – that quickly surpasses the darkest days of our winter surge,” Brown said. “When our hospitals are full, there is no more room for more patients in need of care.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday directed state officials to hire recruitment agencies to find additional medical staff from outside the state as the Delta variant overwhelms its current human resources. He also sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association asking hospitals to voluntarily postpone all elective medical procedures.

Despite the widespread use of the Delta variant, parts of Europe have so far avoided a similar hospital crisis with the help of vaccines.

Janice Perez, a clinical technician, is being tested for COVID-19 in North Miami after a colleague in her office recently tested positive. Marta Lavandier / AP Hide caption

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Marta Lavandier / AP

Janice Perez, a clinical technician, is being tested for COVID-19 in North Miami after a colleague in her office recently tested positive.

Marta Lavandier / AP

The UK had more than 5,900 COVID-19 patients in hospitals on Monday, but the recent surge hasn’t overwhelmed medical centers. On Tuesday, the government announced that 75% of adults are fully vaccinated.

The same was true in Italy, where summer infections did not result in any increase in hospital admissions, intensive stays or deaths. According to the Ministry of Health, around 3,200 people in the country of 60 million inhabitants were hospitalized on regular wards or intensive care units on Tuesday.

Italian health officials advising the government on the pandemic attribute the relatively low hospital numbers to the country’s vaccination campaign, which saw 64.5% of Italians aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.

The U.S. is seeing an average of more than 116,000 new coronavirus infections per day, as well as about 50,000 hospitalizations, a level that has not been seen since the winter surge. Unlike other points in the pandemic, hospitals now have more non-COVID patients for everything from car accidents to operations that were postponed during the outbreak.

This put even more stress on the nursing staff, who were already tired after the constant death of patients and illnesses in their ranks.

“Anecdotally, I see more and more nurses saying, ‘I’m going, I’ve had enough,'” said Gerard Brogan, director of nursing practice at National Nurses United, an umbrella organization of nurses unions in the United States. ‘The risk for me and my family is just too great.’ “

There are more new daily virus cases in Hawaii than ever before.

In the emergency department of a Honolulu hospital, patients had to wait more than 24 hours on stretchers in a roped off area for beds because there weren’t enough staff to open additional beds, nurse Patrick Switzer said.

“Someone who sits in the emergency room for 30 hours is unhappy,” he said.

He described being “in that constant state of fear of knowing that you don’t have the tools to take care of your patients because we’re so thin.”

COVID-19 hospital admissions have now surpassed the worst previous surge in the Florida pandemic with no signs of subsiding, breaking a record of 13,600 on Monday, according to the Department of Health and Social Affairs. More than 2,800 critical care needed. At the height of the summer surge last year, there were more than 10,170 COVID-19 hospital admissions.

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At the Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, Fla., The number of COVID-19 patients has doubled every week for the past month, draining the already scarce staff, said Penny Ceasar, who handles the recordings there.

The hospital has rebuilt overflow areas to accommodate the increase in admissions. Some employees are sick with COVID-19.

“It’s just hard. We’re just tired. I just want this to be over,” said Ceasar.

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