Connecticut hospitals haven’t had to shut down elective surgeries or close any beds recently, but they are still struggling with a nursing shortage.
“You’ve got an aging workforce. You have an aging population who have more medically complex needs and throw in a pandemic," Chris Ann Meaney, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Bristol Hospital, explained.
“It’s the perfect storm really,” Meaney said.
“People are just choosing other careers because they’re burnt out. It’s difficult work, emotionally and physically.”
Meaney said she worries about new nurses too.
“You’re stepping into a pandemic and seeing things and feeling things that you didn’t have any experience with before,” she added.
She says about 10% of the acute care workforce are new graduates.
She said nationally there's a 28% turnover rate for new nurses after their first year and Bristol Hospital is trying to make sure nurses don’t get burnt out.
“Making sure that they’re taking vacation. I know some organizations have decided not to allow their staff to take vacations because of the shortages,” Meaney said.
“We know that if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of your patients," she added.
“They truly are the backbone of our healthcare delivery system,” Marcia Proto, executive director of the CT Center for Nursing Workforce, said.
However, nurses don’t bill for their services.
“There’s no breakdown of what that nurse devoted to that care,” she said.
Patients are beginning to feel the impact. It might take a little longer to be seen when you show up at the hospital, but they still want you to come.
“Any type of preventative measures that you can take to keep yourself healthy and safe is really important while hospitals are strained with capacity and staffing needs,” Meaney said.