Nationwide nursing shortage impacting Michiana hospitals

NOW: Nationwide nursing shortage impacting Michiana hospitals

A day in the life of a nurse during the pandemic, hasn’t been easy.

"The medical community was learning more about covid, there was new information, new processes, new procedures on a week by week of not day by day basis,” St. Joesph Regional Medical Center Administrative Director for Maternal Child Carol Walker said.

“Every day they would really come to work not knowing if they would have what they would need. I think a lot of them are just now kind of taking a deep breath and saying wow look what I just went through,” Vice President of Nursing at Elkhart General Hospital Rosetta Speights said.

During the beginning of the pandemic, the call to get more nurses through hospital doors increased due to the amount of COVID positive patients overflowing their rooms. Over a year later, some hospitals are still in the same boat, with a shortage of nursing staff.

“Actually, the pandemic just really heightened what was already a national shortage of nurses. The U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts by next year we will be short 1.2 million nurses across the nation. So, Beacon like other hospitals is experiencing the same type of shortages as far as nursing,” Speights said.

Why nurses decide to not apply, and why some have even left their field during the pandemic, is for a number of different reasons.

“Some of our parents of nursing students were very concerned not to have their young adults working in the hospital. So that was a big additional shortage for us early on,” Walker said.

“A lot of them, if they're single parents or have kids in school they had to worry about okay who’s going to watch my kids now that we have eLearning? I think the schools closing made a huge impact with a lot of our nurses and then they became teachers so they had to also be teachers. So, they had to be a nurse and a teacher,” Speights said.

Now hospital staff, are just trying to encourage anyone who meets qualifications to fill the empty scrubs.

“We have developed our own travel nurse agency within trinity health called first choice and has certainly helped support nurses coming into our facility to help us care for our patients,” Walker said.

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