As COVID cases increase the nurses’ shortage persists

A nurse and a patient in a hospital room.
A nurse and a patient in a hospital room.(Source: WVUE)
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 7:49 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - COVID-19 cases are once again surging in Louisiana and the surge comes amid the ongoing nurses’ shortage in the state.

Jennifer Manning, DNS, ACNS-BC, CNE is Associate Dean for Undergraduate Nursing Programs at LSU Health New Orleans.

“It’s always concerning to have shortages of nurses,” said Manning.

There are thousands of open nursing positions in the state.

“It’s a fluid number so it’s hard to be very specific but a good number that I’ve heard consistently is about 6,000 positions are open across the state, that seems to be pretty steady and so that would be my estimate,” said Manning.

Often hospitals get creative to boost nursing staff levels.

“And to fill the gaps they continue to do what they’ve always done which is contract nurses and travel nurses and so, of course, it’s a concern but we do have mechanisms in place where we can fill those gaps to make sure we have enough nurses to give good, quality patient care but in the ideal world, it would be nice, if it was improving,” Manning stated.

Brandi Domingue is happy to stick to COVID-19 precautions. She walked out of a grocery wearing a mask.

“Keep your masking and be vaccinated. I’m four doses in with the vaccinations,” said Domingue.

She said mask-wearing has long been her practice.

“I don’t have a problem, I wear it anyway, anywhere I go I wear it. My baby, he has his, but he took his off,” said Domingue.

The latest surge in COVID cases is happening around the U.S.

Even before the pandemic, some health care workers were experiencing burnout. “It’s something as a nurse administrator and as a nurse of 22 years that is near and dear to my heart,” said Manning. “I always want to preach the message to the public that what we need as nurses is all the resources in place and that means having, of course, enough nurses at the bedside alongside of us.”

As COVID-19 cases surge Manning says everyone has a role to play.

“And that’s trying to help us reduce the number of sick people in our population and that’s the handwashing, the vaccinations. If you think you’re sick get some home tests, test and then reduce your exposure, socially distance,” she said.

That could lessen the strain on health care workers including nurses.

“It helps make sure that we can reduce the number of hospitalizations and then that takes the burden off of those units where we are short nurses and they can give good care to those patients,” said Manning.

There is some good news. LSU Health saw an uptick in the number of people applying to nursing school.

“I will say I was really excited that this year we had more applicants than we had seen in previous years. I think the attention the nursing profession has drawn on the public has recruited some to our field who hear the call to give good patient care,” said Manning.

As some people are prepared for COVID-19 to always be around. “No, it’s going to be like the flu, like the flu,” said Domingue.

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