COVID nurses on the edge

Staff shortages and a 4th wave of COVID are pushing Michigan nurses to their breaking points.

Nurses treating COVID-19 patients in Michigan hospitals were already stressed out before now. But the ongoing fourth wave of the pandemic is pushing many to the breaking point.

“It’s a bigger problem than ever now,” said Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, in an interview with Bridge Michigan. “It’s affecting virtually every hospital in the state in some way, shape or form, whether it’s a small rural hospital or a large hospital in one of our urban centers.”

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A national survey by the Washington Post and KFF showed that 55% of nurses felt “burned out” and nearly three in ten were thinking of getting out of the business of health care altogether. That was in April, months before the Delta variant led to this fourth wave.

There are no hard numbers in Michigan yet, but anecdotal evidence indicates many have already left nursing to pursue other, less emotionally devastating careers. That’s leaving remaining nurses to deal with both COVID and critical under-staffing at hospitals in the state.

Jamie Brown, president of the Michigan Nurses Association and a critical-care nurse at Ascension Borgess Hospital, told Bridge Michigan that the current situation is unprecedented.

“Just about every hospital is short-staffed with nurses. I’ve never seen staffing the way it is now,” she said.

[Bridge Michigan]

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