There was already a shortage of nurses nationwide before the pandemic. Now it’s a full-blown crisis affecting every hospital in South Florida.
“We have lost at least 400 nurses in our system,” said Carol Biggs, executive director of nursing for Jackson Health Systems. “We are now hiring nurses before they even graduate. “
Nursing students feel the cavalry is rising to save the day.
“My top priority is to take care of as many people as possible, especially as a professional nurse, my plan is to do all I can for the community that has helped me get there, don’t is this not?” said Ayleen Escobar, a nursing student in the nursing program at Miami-Dade College.
A group of health officials and politicians met at Miami-Dade College on Monday to discuss solutions to the nursing shortage. There is no short-term magic bullet. Local hospitals rely on schools like Miami-Dade College and Broward College to train as many nurses as possible as quickly as possible. Financial assistance to help hospitals cover additional costs was also discussed at the meeting. Jackson Health CEO Carlos Migoya said his hospital system pays about $ 150 million more in overtime because there aren’t enough nurses to work every shift, and he blames it the pandemic.
“Many nurses who have faced this problem over the past two years have decided to quit, they have taken early retirement, many of them have left the healthcare industry and some have chosen to earn more. money by going to work in temp agencies, ”said Migoya. “What happened now after COVID, these temp agencies were able to double what they used to charge. Today, hospitals pay a lot more for the same care. “
Aurelio Fernandez, CEO of Memorial Health Care System in Broward County, said it wasn’t just nurses, there was a shortage of all health care specialties, driven by the needs created by COVID .
“At one point in August of this year, 49% of our patients were positive for COVID, which put enormous stress on the health care system and on the way we manage patient care,” Fernandez said. . “Now we have less than 55 patients in the health care system, we have less than 10 ICU patients who test positive for COVID. “
Hospital CEOs said vaccination is the key to reducing hospitalizations and urged everyone to get their booster shots to protect against the Omicron variant.
Migoya said the best way to gauge the severity of the pandemic at any given time is to look at the number of people hospitalized with COVID.
“Omicron is a great example. The first signs of omicron indicate that it is two or three times more infectious than delta, which is itself highly infectious, but its severity is not as high as delta, so what they saw in other parts of the world is right now they haven’t had as many hospitalizations and if that stays constant – and hopefully – that could be the end of the pandemic, ”Migoya said, assuming enough people get vaccinated or gain natural immunity through infection.