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ABC-7 Xtra: Borderland nursing shortage

EL PASO, Texas -- If you've walked into a hospital and believe you are seeing fewer nurses or hospital staff, you're not alone.

Those same nurses are telling ABC-7 they see fewer co-workers working alongside them and have to pick up the extra load, many times to the point of exhaustion.

Sunday on ABC-7 Xtra, host Saul Saenz talks to a registered nurse and the dean of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing to find out why the borderland is facing a nursing and staffing shortage and try to find solutions.

Thursday, nurses joined a nationwide demonstration, protesting the nursing shortage.

"I work in an emergency room, and it's very stressful, very high-paced. We see sometimes between 10 and 20 patients per nurse in the night. And it just doesn't give us the time that we need to not only properly build a relationship with these patients to settle their fears, to really understand what's happening with them." said registered nurse Megan Madson.

"It's very exhausting to have to stay a late shift for 14 hours, come back and do it all over again. And it could be a 12-hour, or it could be another 15-hour shift depending on what our staffing is that day," said fellow registered nurse Stephany Ramirez.

Both Ramirez and Madson took part in a nationwide 'Staff Up for Safe Care' demonstration to highlight the need for healthcare providers to increase staff before handling an overwhelmed workload.

"This has been ongoing for two years since Covid started," said Ramirez.

According to the American Nurses Association, by 2022, there will be far more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year.

Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation.

According to Wanda Helgesen, Executive Director at BorderRAC, the pandemic triggered nursing retirements or forced many to leave the workforce to take care of loved ones.

Others chose to hit the road for a bigger paycheck.

"We lost individuals that went to contract agencies because it was greater dollars there. And so, we did lose a lot of our core group. And I don't know if we ever really recovered from that before we have the next surge," said Helgesen.

While nurses are forced to carry the extra load on their shoulders, nurses say patients will see the results of overworked, understaffed emergency and intensive care units.

"We're just rushing them through as fast as we can because we need to see as many as we can. We don't have the proper staff and the proper equipment to really take time with these patients and treat them to the best of our abilities," said Madson.

"The nursing shortage is absolutely an issue that the facilities deal with every day. Compared to last year. We have a limited number of supplemental number staff that we have been able to provide the facilities." added Helgesen.

The American Nursing association adds that with more than 500,000 seasoned RNs anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs to expand and replace retirees and avoid a nursing shortage.

This means nursing educators like GGHSON will need to fill that void in the borderland.

But until that happens, current nurses say they will work with hope and prayer.

"Pray every day now before I go into work just that we'll not have any major catastrophes," concluded Madson.

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.

Comments

6 Comments

  1. There is no shortage. She said exactly what was happening. They are leaving for contract work to get paid $100+ a hour. Hospitals are notorious for underpaying the real workers while ceo’s and nursing “directors” and the people who don’t do ish get paid top dollar. Maybe pay people better and you’d have loyal employees. How can a respiratory tech who sees so many cov+ pts get paid less than $100,000 a year while the ceo gets $500,000 a year. I don’t mind them getting paid more but that’s too large of a difference to ask ME to be loyal to the company. They’re as out of touch with the people who actually put themselves at risk than congress is with the American people. Its rich people getting richer

  2. Part of the problem is people and illegals who don’t have insurance who use the ER for everything.

    Another problem is why is Medicaid paying for the birth a child? If you cannot afford to support your child without the help of the government, you should stop having children and go back to school so you can get a better job.

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