Hiring event looks to bring more nurses to CSRA

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Nursing shortages around the country existed well before COVID, and the pandemic certainly created a new set of considerations when it comes to providing the best patient care.

Our local hospitals have experienced this crisis first-hand.

With each hospital comes a unique set of challenges, but there’s one thing most have in common -- they’re all hiring nurses.

Augusta University says they currently employ 1,500 nurses but need about 200 more. They said COVID patients require one nurse per one patient.

Normally nurses in the ICU treat two patients per nurse.

“Throughout the year, that number is going to increase because we have planned growth in our or and our ED and we’re constructing an 18-bed CV ICU unit,” AU Health chief nursing officer Laura Brower said.

In order to accommodate that workload, they had to divert nurses from other parts of the healthcare system to the ICU units. This past Monday, those nurses got to return to their original assignments.

Doctors Hospital says they currently have about 650 nurses on staff, but today, they held a hiring event.

“We’re in the process of rebuilding, and so we’re adding to our nursing workforce to support those additions and just resuming normal operations,” chief nursing officer Karen Smith said.

“I wouldn’t say that it has a negative impact, it’s just - we’re always trying to get better. And so the way we do that is to bring on more and more talented people.”

Interestingly, not every local hospital says the pandemic made the nursing shortage worse.

The national Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 11 million more nurses are needed nationwide to prevent an even worse nursing shortage.

But because of the specific needs of COVID patients -- that ratio has decreased 1-to-1.

“We’re utilizing United States travelers and international travelers, but with the COVID volume, we still didn’t have enough staff,” Brower said.

Meanwhile, at Doctors Hospital where they’ve had to treat fewer COVID patients, in some ways, the pandemic actually eased a bit of the burden.

“People were afraid to come to hospitals, some surgeries weren’t happening,” Smith said. “We’re in the process of rebuilding and so we’re adding to our nursing workforce to support those additions and just resuming normal operations.”

Doctors Hospital says they currently employ 650 nurses -- and need about 137 more.

“Not having enough nurses can have many impacts, and sometimes that means that you might close down a department or a service line so that you can fully support other service lines in the area,” Smith said.

Because of their decreased patient numbers, Doctors didn’t have to do that. But AU Health says they did have to divert nurses from some units to accommodate others.

“We couldn’t have functioned without them,” Brower said.

Both Doctors Hospital and AU say they hire nurses year long and you can apply for openings on through their website.

Studies by the National Institute of Health show a heavy nursing workload can negatively impact job satisfaction and even patient safety.

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