Nursing association calls staffing shortage a national crisis, wants HHS to help

WASHINGTON — Nurses are feeling the pressure from the delta variant—and now they’re asking the federal government take action.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address the growing nursing shortage before it’s too late.

The association says there was a staffing shortage before the pandemic hit, but they say it’s now a national crisis, and they need of two million nurses to fix it!

The ANA says they believe that’s most realistic number to account for retirements, burnout and the increased demand caused by this latest COVID-19 surge.

“We have had multiple team members, including myself, lose family members in our unit from COVID,” said Haley Griffiths, Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto ICU nurse.

Griffiths and Stephanie Patterson work in the ICU at Baptist Memorial Hospital- DeSoto in Mississippi which is a state that’s been short 2,000 nurses this year.

“It’s been, it’s been very heavy emotionally, it’s hard to debrief,” said Griffiths, because the next patient relies on our ability to compartmentalize what we just saw and move on and take care of the next patient,” Griffiths.

The American Nurses Association President Dr. Ernest Grant the shortage is dire, and they need relief.

In their letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the group is calling for more solutions to keep nurses, new payment methods, and removing barriers that prevent advance practice nurses from performing certain care like telehealth.

“You can’t ask that of a human being and expect them to continue to function effectively and efficiently. And unfortunately, the downside to that is, the consumer is the one who’s going to suffer,” said Dr. Grant.

These nurses say they will keep showing up for patients but now, they’re asking their communities to show up for them.

“The vaccine while you may actually still get the virus, you may still get COVID-19 the vaccine is there to help prevent you from getting so sick, that you end up in our hospital and possibly lose your life,” said Stephanie Patterson, Baptist Memorial Hospital- DeSoto ICU nurse.

We reached out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services several times, asking them about this letter and the group’s request for help but we haven’t heard back.