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Pity Party - US Hospitals Hit With Nurse Staffing Crisis Amid COVID

Updated | Posted
by JKL33 JKL33 Platinum Nurse

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US Hospitals Hit With Nurse Staffing Crisis Amid COVID

A few choice quotes:

Quote

The problem, health leaders say, is twofold: Nurses are quitting or retiring, exhausted or demoralized by the crisis. And many are leaving for lucrative temporary jobs with traveling-nurse agencies that can pay $5,000 or more a week.

Mmm, demoralized and...greedy!

Quote

It's gotten to the point where doctors are saying, "Maybe I should quit being a doctor and go be a nurse," said Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer at Georgia's Augusta University Medical Center

My eyeballs actually don't roll back far enough for this ^ one. šŸ™„

Quote

"I think clearly people are taking advantage of the demand that is out there," Shields said. "I hate to use `gouged' as a description, but we are clearly paying a premium and allowing people to have fairly high profit margins."

Or this ^ one.

Quote

"The nurses say, 'Hey, if I am not going to be treated with respect, I might as well go be a travel nurse,'" she said. "'That way I can go work in a hellhole for 13 weeks, but then I can take off a couple months or three months and go do whatever.'"

šŸ‘šŸ½

No doubt the situation is bad, but it's beyond disingenuous to pretend that all of this is primarily about Covid. As far as insinuating greedy motivations, I can't sum it up very well in a way that wouldn't get censored. One of the nurses mentioned in the article used travel money to pay off $50K in student loans. I suppose all is right with the world as long as it's just millions of individual citizens suffering and not businesses. The whole thing is somewhat sick.

In the 5+ years leading up to Covid, hospital admins have been downright gleeful over their own smug plans to profit all the more off of others' hard work and goodwill. Perhaps the number of times they can look people straight in the eye and make impossible demands and then treat them like trash when they can't do the impossible is coming to an end, or at least a hiatus. This kind of hatefulness did not used to be part of hospitals' dealings with nurses. They have been busy sending powerful messages from the top down that they could not care less if any given nurse works for them or not and have comported themselves as if mere mortals should grovel to be in their presence. They have been dismissive, disparaging and abusive. They appear to despise nurses and maybe patients, too.

And now, after spending years with mergers and takeovers and screwing communities across the country....they are actually going to cry in their beer about their problems.

I care about a lot of things, but I have zero sympathy for the concerns of hospital corporations. Zero. The rest of what I think while reading this article I can't print.

Charlcie, BSN, RN

Specializes in Travel Nurse, All ICU specialties and ED. Has 10 years experience.

That article was disgusting. I like how admin is crying about nurses finally refusing to be treated like garbage LOLĀ 

NurseSpeedy, ADN, LPN, RN

Has 19 years experience.

5 minutes ago, Charlcie said:

That article was disgusting. I like how admin is crying about nurses finally refusing to be treated like garbage LOLĀ 

We have been treated like trash and are being asked to work under hazardous conditionsā€¦.um, pay your nurses better or pay for an agency that will supply you with one that is only willing to put up with your crap for a higher pay for 13 weeks of hell. Then, if you burn them, they can decide no thanks when renewal comes up. Nursing contracts were big 20 years agoā€¦.now they look like they have an even higher demand. People are only will to put up with so much when they can get a much safer and less stressful job for close to what hospitals are starting nurses atā€¦.and sometimes even moreā€¦..with a better work environment and a heck of a lot less stress. I have never been email, voicemail, or text bombed by some many agencies. Sorry, stick a fork in me. Done with bedside. Not worth my life or my sanity. My family deserves more from me than an ungrateful employer worried more about their bottom line than their workers and patients. They have been greedy, now they can pay more for the nurse and the agency that finds one willing to work with them for a number of weeks not yearsā€¦.in the end it will cost more than paying your staff nurses more but hey, hospitals only think about the here and now-not what the long term picture will be if they donā€™t fix the problem with a better solution.

Ā 

I read the article.

I think that one of the things that I find most interesting is that in actualityĀ there are a number of licensed nurses in the community who, for whatever reason, are not currently practicing in acute care butĀ have kept their acute careĀ nursing knowledge and knowledge of how to perform acute care nursing skills/procedures about as current as someone who is not currently practicing in acute care could do, yet these nurses have not andĀ are not (to my knowledge) being approached by health care facilitiesĀ to ask them if they are willing to help out if necessary training/support is provided. Ā I mentioned this in some posts earlierĀ on in the Covid crisis. Ā These nurses would have had months to receive necessary education/training. Ā 

There has been ample time,Ā over a year to a year and a half,Ā to reach out to nurses in the community and provide them with education/training to help them to take care of patients in acute care. Ā Yet, I have seen none of this. Ā I don't know whether to characterize this as disorganization, lack of motivation, or lack of something else. Ā It definitely hasn't appeared to me that this was an option that appealed to facilities at all, and I wonder why. Ā 

In my state we have the state wide effort to recruit health care workers as emergency support for facilities, but I have not seen or experienced any personalized one-on-one effort to recruit health care workers from the community.Ā 

If there are not enough licensed nurses, then, due to the Covid emergency, it seems to me it may be necessary for facilitiesĀ to look into utilizing unlicensed people to perform some of the work that normally only licensed nurses perform. Ā I can't help wondering if this is actually a motive for some people.Ā 

Ā 

Edited by Susie2310
Add info.

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

For once, nurses are in control šŸ™‚

This article could have been published by Gomerblog. It is unreal that these idiots could be so dense, and still run hospitals.Ā  The only way to have not known this was coming was to have eyes shut, fingers in ears and walk the hospital halls singing "LA LA LA..."

He said it is hard to compete with the travel agencies, which are charging hospitals $165 to $170 an hour per nurse. He said the agencies take a big cut of that, but he estimated that nurses are still clearing $70 to $90 an hour, which is two to three times what the hospital pays its staff nurses.

"I think clearly people are taking advantage of the demand that is out there," Shields said. "I hate to use `gouged' as a description, but we are clearly paying a premium and allowing people to have fairly high profit margins."

This, my friend is simple economics.Ā  You pay below market value, staff goes elsewhere to earn market value.Ā  You then pay a premium to the agency supplying the commodity you put no effort into conserving.

Coule cited a recent example in which his hospital in Georgia hired a respiratory therapist through an agency to replace a staff member who had decided to accept a traveling gig. The replacement came from the same hospital where his respiratory therapist had just gone to work.

"Essentially we swapped personnel but at double the cost," he said.

No, you did not "swap personnel at double the cost"Ā  You lost a potentially long term valuable employee, and temporarily patched a staffing hole at double the hourly rate.Ā  Your cost is going to be a hell of a lot more than double when you have to actually hire and train somebody to replace the traveller.

The lack of understanding of simple math is astounding.

Missing from the article was a hospital exec explaining what they were doing to mitigate this problem.Ā Ā 

On 9/8/2021 at 1:25 AM, Susie2310 said:

There has been ample time,Ā over a year to a year and a half,Ā to reach out to nurses in the community and provide them with education/training to help them to takļ»æe care of patients in acute care. Ā Yet, I have seen none of this. Ā I don't know whether to characterize this as disorganization, lack of motivation, or lack of something else.ļ»æ Ā It definitely hasn't appeared to me that this was an option that appealed to facilities at all, and Iļ»æ wonder why.

I sincerely believe it's their mindset, which is toxic. They are looking for people to abuse. A nurse just sitting out in the community not crying him/herself to sleep at night due to exhaustion or frustration and who can survive or even thrive while not working at big shiny hospital--is already at baseline not the person they prefer. They are looking for people who line up saying it's their dream job to work there. They're looking for people who believe that they won't have a great career unless they sign a contract to pay for their own orientation. Etc.

On 9/8/2021 at 1:25 AM, Susie2310 said:

If there are not enough licensed nurses, then, due to the Covid emergency, it seems to me it may be necessary for facilitiesĀ to look into utilizing unlicensed people to perform some of the work that normally only licensed nurses perform. Ā I can't help wondering if this is actually a motive for some people.Ā  ļ»æ

I have long suspected that they will move in this direction as soon as they either find or create a clear path to do so.

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

On 9/8/2021 at 1:25 AM, Susie2310 said:

If there are not enough licensed nurses, then, due to the Covid emergency, it seems to me it may be necessary for facilitiesĀ to look into utilizing unlicensed people to perform some of the work that normally only licensed nurses perform. Ā I can't help wondering if this is actually a motive for some people.Ā 

Sadly, the number of unlicensed personnel is dwindling as well, due to low pay. They can go to a factory making $5-10/hr more an hour, and not have to put up with the crap, literally. CEOs sure haven't taken a pay cut, many of themĀ still making record bonuses šŸ˜¤. Who's going to stick around for that, regardless of specialty?

On 9/8/2021 at 9:13 AM, JKL33 said:

I have long suspected that they will move in this direction as soon as they either find or create a clear path to do so.

See my comment above

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

1 hour ago, hherrn said:

Missing from the article was a hospital exec explaining what they were doing to mitigate this problem.Ā Ā 

They plan to do nothing, as what they're doing hasĀ worked so far. I'd like to think a few sentinel events would change things, but it won't. Until the head honches (both facility and insurance CEOs and CXOs) are held directly accountable for monies and level of care, nothing will change

I got out of hospital nursing years ago when I saw the writing on the wall. "Nursing shortage" my foot. It was always a shortage of hospitals REFUSING to hire adequate staff, choosing instead to demand more and more of their existing nurses, who inĀ many cases had no choice but to rise to the occasion, no matter the cost to their health and emotional well being, as well as the quality of care they could provide under those conditions.

3 hours ago, Nurse Beth said:

For once, nurses are in control šŸ™‚

I doubt that will ever truly be the case.

11 hours ago, JKL33 said:

In the 5+ years leading up to Covid, hospital admins have been downright gleeful over their own smug plans to profit all the more off of others' hard work and goodwill. Perhaps the number of times they can look people straight in the eye and make impossible demands and then treat them like trash when they can't do the impossible is coming to an end, or at least a hiatus. This kind of hatefulness did not used to be part of hospitals' dealings with nurses. They have been busy sending powerful messages from the top down that they could not care less if any given nurse works for them or not and have comported themselves as if mere mortals should grovel to be in their presence. They have been dismissive, disparaging and abusive. They appear to despise nurses and maybe patients, too.

I was starting to see that "glee" in the eyes of management when I decided to get out. I was sick and tired of fighting nursing supervisors' demands that we take additional patients, when that would have been in violation of established ICU/Stepdown nurse to patient ratios. "It's only this once-this is an unusual circumstance!" "I saw three nurses gibber jabbering at the nursing station this morning-they clearly have time to take another patient!" "Why won't you work with me on this-you need to be a team player!" And these were nurses who had worked our units before rising into management. Everything was great before my unit manager retired-she went to bat for us on a daily basis. Once she was gone, they swooped in like vultures to force us to comply.

I was lucky and had the option to say "screw this," I'm going to stay home and see my middle school kids through high school." And I did. And when I went back to work, I chose a specialty that can't mess with your ratios. You can only circulate one surgery at a time!

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