Nurses worry about staffing shortages as COVID hospitalizations climb in New York

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — As New York continues to face a second wave of coronavirus cases, there are concerns about staffing shortages in hospitals again.

The number of COVID patients in New York State hospitals is nearing 2,300 – double what it was just three weeks ago.

While there is no shortage of hospital beds, the number has nurses on edge.

“Most places are grossly understaffed already,” says Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Association.

During the height of the pandemic in New York, cases remained low across the country and thousands of nurses and doctors migrated to the state to help out.

However, with COVID numbers spiking nationwide, there are concerns about patient care without the same number of people to staff state hospitals this time around.

“In an environment in which you should be thinking of one, or two at the most, patients, people are caring for four and five or six patients,” Sheridan-Gonzalez said.

The nurses’ union is sounding the alarm now, as many nurses are retiring from the field after the pandemic.

“Twice as many nurses, from what we understand, in many of the facilities retired than they had expected when COVID hit,” Sheridan-Gonzalez said.

She adds that the fear of getting sick is very real and healthcare workers worry about having to separate from their families again.

“I think people are scared again of having to isolate for their families,” she said.

Sheridan-Gonzalez says hospitals are now refusing to hire new nurses despite the surge in retirements. However, the hospitals content that’s not true and they are taking staffing needs seriously.

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