TFC News

Georgia faces healthcare staff shortage amid lingering pandemic

Lenn Almadin Thornhill | TFC News Columbus, Georgia

Posted at Oct 18 2021 09:10 AM

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Nearly every industry and every business is looking for workers these days.

A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday shows a record-breaking 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, the highest level since the agency started tracking in 2000. The healthcare industry is one of the most affected sectors. The Covid-19 pandemic, officials say, exacerbated an already-existing shortage.

Georgia nurse Karen Pedrozo said this is being seen even in the hospital she works in. "Because of that, we’re also going through fatigue, not only physically but also emotionally. Working on the Covid floor, there's strictly no visitors so we have to be there emotionally and mentally for our patients," she shared.

Pedrozo noted they needed help. "At one time, the state had sent help from different private agencies, nursing agencies to help out with the shortages."

There has been a decrease in the number of new Covid cases in the Peach State.  But the average daily increase in new patients for the past two weeks was about 320 a day.

"Currently in our hospitals, we are seeing non-vaccinated patients compared to before - younger but they are not as sick as before. We're still suffering from a shortage of beds in our ICU," Pedrozo said.

According to the American Nurses Association, more than 500,000 nurses are going to retire at the end of next year. The US Labor Department anticipates that 1 million new nurses will be needed to fill those slots.

Some hospitals across the country are offering sign-on bonuses and are bolstering recruitment from other countries. But Lorna Buntichai of the Philippine Nurses Association of Georgia emphasized the difficulties in getting recruits "because of the requirements."

"They have to be CGFNS (Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools). They have to be proficient in English and they should have 2 years experience in the hospital, not just anywhere but active in the hospital," Buntichai pointed out.

In the meantime, Pedrozo says she and her fellow healthcare workers are trying to keep it together. "I do hope that the other nurses won’t give up," Pedrozo said.