Valley hospitals see nurse shortage as COVID deaths climb

Posted at 2:28 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 20:11:31-04

PHOENIX — There's a new COVID-19 milestone in Arizona, as we surpass 19,000 COVID-19 related deaths. Now hospitals are in need of help, as more and more nurses leave the medical field.

“It’s just chaotic...just chaos,” Brandi Cano told ABC15 when describing the emergency room at Valleywise Medical Center.

Brandi Cano has been a registered nurse for 14 years. She says nurses are doing the best they can, given the prolonged shortage.

“Companies are doing everything they can to try to retain nurses. A lot of places are offering big sign-on bonuses. Travelers are making really good money right now, but some people, despite whatever money you can pay them, don't want to do bedside anymore,” added Cano.

She says it’s because they’re burnt out. “It’s stressful because when you’re short-staffed your assignments increase. You can’t get to everybody as fast as you’d like to. Wait times are longer and that leads to patients being frustrated. It seems like a lot of the time there may not be an end in sight,” Cano told ABC15.

Doctor Frank LoVecchio is an emergency physician. He says it’s been a hard week at the hospital due to the staff shortage.

“A physical bed is useless unless you have someone to treat you there,” said Dr. LoVecchio.

He says given the shortage, the only other factor that can help them is people getting vaccinated.

“The going percentage now is that one person dies who has been vaccinated for every 97, 95 or so that are not,” added Dr. LoVecchio.

He also says, for the first time, the average person getting admitted and dying is under 50.

“Vaccinated people are not in the hospital,” Cano told ABC15.

Cano says their team will hold down the fort, as best as they can, until more staff comes in.

“You just try to keep going. Try to take one for the team and hope that things get better with time...That’s all you can do,” she said.

Valleywise says it has about 150 nurse openings at this time.

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