Spike in hospitalizations has nurses feeling the burn of nationwide nursing shortage

Central Florida nurses are feeling the effects of a nationwide nursing shortage.  

"It's a lot of heavy heavy loads of patient, where you know, normally, we would be two to one or three to one,  so we're tripled.  And there's nowhere to put these patients and as soon as we're cleaning a bed we're getting a new patient.  It's stressful. There's a lot and it's taxing on all of us," said Hayley.  

She works in an ICU at an Orlando-area hospital.  She admits she’s exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

"It's hard you know you see death and dying every single day, and you grow to learn, who these patients are and the next day they're ventilated or the next day they're dying," Hayley said.

Florida Nurses Association Executive Director Willa Fuller tells FOX 35 News what Hayley describes is what she’s hearing from her nurses all across the state.  

"There was a nursing shortage before the pandemic so it's actually been exacerbated by the pandemic," Fuller explained.  

She says many older nurses are now opting to retire early.  Some younger nurses are being lured away from steady hospital jobs to become traveling nurses making three to four times the amount of money.  Others are quitting because they’re burned out.  

"If you're already in a shortage anybody that leaves is creates more of a problem," Fuller said. 

Many nurses like Hayley are sticking it out working extra days and overtime to fill the holes in schedules so patients don’t suffer. 

"I still say that the quality of care is still there like we still do our best care that we can," Hayley said.  Area hospitals are offering lucrative incentives for overtime and picking up shifts on days off.      

Orlando Health released a statement saying that like many other healthcare systems across the Us, Orlando health has been impacted by the national nurse shortage:

"We are constantly evaluating our staffing strategies as the pandemic endures and continue to seek qualified candidates while safely caring for all COVID-19 and non-COVID patients in our system. We take seriously the well-being and satisfaction of our team members, who have courageously risen to the challenge of caring for our community during the pandemic We also want to remind our community that vaccination against COVID-19 remains the best option to fight the virus and reduce the strain on the nation’s healthcare system.

AdventHealth also released a statement acknowledging the nursing shortage saying in part:

"We are doing everything within our power to bring support to our teams. We are actively recruiting clinicians and expediting the hiring process for nurses, and we’ve brought in roughly 1,000 nurses from staffing agencies to work at our Central Florida hospitals. We’re using every internal resource and have redeployed hundreds of team members to support our nurses and physicians. This includes bringing employees with clinical credentials, such as nursing educators, back to the bedside. We also have hundreds of team members – from support departments to campus CEOs – who are taking on tasks such as folding linens, to free up our care teams" 

Watch FOX 35 News for the latest updates.