Nursing shortage felt nationwide and here at home

Hospitals putting emphasis on well-being of staff
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 4:44 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A shortage of frontline workers is being felt nationwide and here at home. The stress of the pandemic is largely to blame for nurse burnout, but local hospitals are doing what they can to put an emphasis on the well-being of their staff.

It’s no secret that it’s been a difficult two years for nurses, causing many to leave the profession. Lake Charles Memorial Hospital is one of many hospitals feeling the effects of a nursing shortage.

“Sometimes I can see in their eyes when I walk down the hall and I can tell they’re exhausted,” said Jada Smith, director of administrative supervisors.

Smith works alongside other nurses everyday, and seeing the burnout, she’s focusing on the well-being of her staff.

“Being a nursing director on the floor I do get to develop very personal relationships with my staff members so I can tell when they’re getting tired, when they’re due for some self care,” said Smith.

Memorial’s Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Gerald Bryant said Memorial, just like hospitals nationwide, is losing registered nurses to early retirement and moving to other jobs, including administrative or traveling nurse positions.

“The nursing shortage has been exacerbated through the pandemic, what’s been referred to as the great resignation,” said Bryant.

Jennifer Foreman, director of nursing excellence, realizes nurses and other hospital staff have had a tough run through the last two years, but she’s proud of those who have powered through.

“Our nurses on top of being resilient, they want to have a great work environment, they want to enjoy coming to work, and that will trickle down to our patient outcomes,” said Foreman.

Bryant says they are actively recruiting, even across state lines, through social media and contracted workers, but said ultimately, “The best recruitment is our team. Their experience as a member of the team here tends to be the number one reason we’re able to recruit other nurses.”

Smith says while there are other jobs out there, she wouldn’t change working in a community like Southwest Louisiana.

“Being in Calcasieu Parish, being in Lake Charles, we’re taking care of our aunts and our uncles, our friends and our schoolteachers, so that is really a blessing for us to be able to take care of the community,” said Smith.

Smith told 7News that she has seen a big shift in morale for the better, saying that there is much less burnout than what she was seeing in the height of the pandemic.

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