The National Nursing Shortage is affecting rural areas
The nationwide nursing shortage is hitting small communities hardest. And, it’s because when it comes to recruiting, small communities just can’t compete. This forces hospital staff to stop offering some procedures and work several jobs at once.
HOUSTON – The nationwide shortage of nurses at hospitals is hitting small communities hardest.
And that’s because, when it comes to recruiting, small communities just can’t compete. This forces their hospitals’ staff to stop offering some procedures or even work several jobs at once.
One year ago, baby Fatimah was born less than 20 minutes after her mom entered of OmniPoint Health Hospital in Anahuac, Texas. She was trying to get to a hospital with a maternity ward but couldn’t make the 30-mile drive.
Fatimah’s mom said, “Something would have probably gone wrong because there is no doctor, and we didn’t know what to do.”
William Kiefer is the CEO of OmniPoint Health. He is also a nurse and had to step in and help the night of Fatimah’s birth.
He said he’s been short-staffed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve had situations where for a shift, we’ve only had one nurse and one tech,” Kiefer said.
Staff at nearby Riceland Hospitals in Winnie, Texas, said they’re also feeling the strain.
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“The nursing ratio is like six patients to one nurse. And it’s supposed to be at least three patients or four patients per nurse,” said Sushanta Goswami, Riceland Hospitals chief of staff.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that 1.1 million additional nurses are needed to avoid a further nursing shortages in 2022.
This gap is expanding health care deserts across the country, because rural hospitals must compete with larger hospitals and staffing agencies with more resources.
“We’re offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus, which is a lot for us. But there are areas just right around us that are offering $35,000 sign-on bonuses. And so you do the math, right?” Kiefer added.
Rural areas must increase salaries in order to get more staff and this sometimes means sacrificing services that aren’t used often.
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When the pandemic first hit, Riceland Hospital in Winnie stopped elective surgeries – now they are back, thanks to funds from the federal government. In OmniPoint Health Hospital, respiratory therapy and surgery services were closed permanently.
“Otherwise we would not have had the money, and we would likely be losing more of our employees to entities that are paying more,” Kiefer said.
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The National Rural Health Association has been looking to close inpatient services in rural areas, requiring patients to be transferred out in less than 24 hours.
As for as the nursing shortage, Georgia and Kentucky have requested help from their states’ national guard units, and in Louisiana more than 50 hospitals have asked for assistance.
National nursing shortage hitting rural America hardest appeared first on maserietv.com.