Hospitals short on nurses amid COVID surge

SPOKANE, Wash. — Seven more people were hospitalized in Spokane County Friday, and with COVID-19 and that’s not the only thing keeping hospitals busy.

More people are outdoors this summer and that means more traumas are being hospitalized. Nationwide, the demand on health care workers is higher than ever.

At Sacred Heart Hospital, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Dan Getz explained he’s seeing the effects on doctors and nurses.

“Anytime you’re in a situation where you have this constant heightened level of concern, it drags on you and healthcare is no different,” Getz said. “We, as you mentioned, are not just seeing high levels of COVID, we’re seeing high levels of all kinds of illness throughout the community. We’re in trauma season right now, that’s what happens in the summer, and people are tired.”

These shortages aren’t new, but local nurse, Alyssa Boldt explained these days with everything that’s happened, it’s harder.

“I will say that lately the morale feels different, from other shortages. I think there’s a big feeling of just burn out right now in nurses,” she said.

On her floor, they’ve had to operate short-staffed for a while now. On days with more nurses, they’re sharing the load on other floors.

“It’s hard to get up in the morning and know that you might be facing a high workload that may put your license at risk, or make you feel like when you go home at the end of the day you weren’t able to give the care that you want to provide,” Boldt said.

At the WSU College of Nursing, they’re trying to fill the need for nurses. Director of BSN, Pre-licensure program, Dr. Wendy Williams-Gilbert explained it hasn’t affected those interested in pursuing the career,  it just takes a little longer to get them to patients.

“I mean we see what’s happening. We’re working from all the top levels of legislature right now to make sure, we’re getting nursing funding, we get clinical placements, and we get good quality nurses out to you,” she explained.

Boldt said when they do have staffing issues, they don’t tell patients because they don’t want patients to worry about their level of care. If people need to go to a hospital, she’d rather them not delay and make their health worse because of staffing issues.

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