AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Nursing Association said Texas needed 27,000 to 28,000 nurses before the pandemic began. Now, nurses are leaving hospitals to work elsewhere.
"Nurses are leaving the profession because they're frustrated, they're tired. You can work for insurance companies. You can work for medical device sales. There are a lot of different things we can use our skill sets," Dr. Serena Bumpus DNP, RN, NEA-BC, director of practice at Texas Nurses Association, said.
What's different this year:
"The difference between this wave of, or the surge of, COVID patients and the last wave of patients is we are doing surgeries. We now have patients who are suffering from long COVID that need hospitalization. These patients are coming into the hospital much sicker. We have a vaccine that could really help curb off this pandemic and move us in a different direction. They're frustrated that they feel dumped on to some degree," Bumpus said.
On nurse staffing ratios:
"It's not a one-size-fits-all. The acuity of the patient really plays a heavy role. So, you have nurses who work in a critical care unit. Critical care nurses are taking care of the sickest of the sick, and those patients normally have multiple IVs with very high-risk drugs that they're infusing into their patients. These patients are intubated sometimes, and so that requires a special level of care and monitoring for that matter. Just in order to maintain skin integrity and that sort of thing, these patients have to be turned every so often. The amount of care that is required in our critical care areas really necessitates that those nurses only take no more than two patients. And a lot of times they really just need to focus on one patient due to the amount of care that's required," Bumpus said.
On hospitals reaching capacity:
"When you're trying to take care of everyone that walks through the door, that can be very, very difficult. Our nurses are stretched very, very thin, which means there potentially will be a delay in someone even being available to help you go to the bathroom, much less bring you your medications that you need. As our hospital beds are full, that might also mean that you're laying on a stretcher in the ER for four hours or maybe even days waiting for a bed. This isn't the standard that they want to live up to, but it's what they've been handed. It's important for the public to know that," Bumpus said.
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