Understaffed and overwhelmed, Lee Well being is providing bonuses to staff who work additional shifts

LEE COUNTY

Hospitals in southwest Florida are overwhelmed and understaffed.

Hundreds of patients are being hospitalized in Lee County with COVID-19, increasing the number of cases and leaving hospitals to find a way to keep up.

Lee Health reported Wednesday afternoon that they have 492 COVID patients in their hospitals and they believe it will only get worse.

One official said they had been through the last few weeks and even last year, but are worried about the next few weeks.

The quality of care cannot change, but the costs – at least for the hospital – must.

Lee Health emailed the staff with some big bonus incentives saying, “We understand that you are tired, exhausted and have worked incredibly hard, but unfortunately we are not out of the woods yet.”

Even the patients can see how exhausted the frontline staff are.

“I have to say, when you come to the hospital, you just understand that you are overwhelmed. These nurses and doctors work around the clock, ”said Shannon Ruvelas, a patient at Cape Coral Hospital. “Then outside of each room there are beds with people, these are just people who are sick, they cannot go home. And so they are stretched. “

“What our employees are likely to feel is like they ran a marathon and they see the finish line and thought they were going to get to the finish line and someone grabbed the finish line and the ticket 40 miles away and now they are” me has to run another marathon and it’s heartbreaking, ”said Armando Llechu, Lee Health’s chief officer of hospital operations.

Llechu said they had to get creative and dig deep into their pockets to motivate people to take on extra shifts. One additional shift per week for 12 weeks as an RN could earn that person a bonus of $ 6,000. One extra shift per pay period, a $ 3,000 bonus.

“When you consider that we have thousands of nurses, the number of patients we could care for is growing exponentially,” Llechu said.

The health system also had to move nurses back to bedside from clinical roles – 67 of them.

“The difference is that last year we were at 372” COVID positive patients received, ”said Llechu.

“We could see that number increase significantly over the next few weeks.”

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