Hospitals face shortage of nurses as pandemic pushes staffing levels to the limit

Posted at 11:22 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 23:22:52-05

(WXYZ) — In Michigan, we are seeing COVID-19 cases surge. Hospitals are full and the first omicron variant was reported.

The state’s chief medical executive says Michigan's COVID-19 cases are higher today than they were last year.

Recent data shows that over 50% of ICU patients are on ventilators forcing the state to tap into the federal reserves for more.

“We have enough ventilators but it’s on thin ice,” said Dr. Ron Kattoo.

He’s a critical care physician and owner of Express Med Urgent Care.

“You can have all the vents. You can have all the rooms. But it’s the nursing issue that is the problem. That's the real crisis,” said Dr. Kattoo.

On social media staffing agencies are sharing post advertising “Detroit is in need of ICU nurses”.

There are travel nurse positions with a starting pay of $109 an hour.

“Staff nurses are frustrated when they have to work next to a person who makes 3x as much as them doing the same job, the same shift,” said registered nurse, Chelsea Brown.

Brown owns Avid Medical Staffing agency with Mazalynn Jones. Their goal is to help fill the gap and advocate for better work conditions and pay.

“We can negotiate better because we know where you’re coming from,” said Jones.

Brown adds, “We are on the front lines with them they are our staff and our co-workers as well.”

Dr. Kattoo says he understands the immediate need for travel nurses but says it can interrupt the workflow.

“You’re not going to fight a pandemic by putting people together who don’t know each other,” he adds.

Nurses say this also puts a strain on current hospital staff.

“Now they have to manage their assignments to their patients but they also have to extend a helping hand,” Brown adds.

They say the immediate solution to help fight the crisis is for hospitals and other facilities to take care of nurses that they do have instead of looking elsewhere.

“If you can properly take care of them. Your gaps will be filled. You will retain your employees. You will have the help you need….treat your family right,” said Brown.

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