There’s a nurse shortage, but Ga. paperwork is slowing the hiring process

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 6:21 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Many of our local hospitals are experiencing nurse shortages, but one local nurse has no heat, no running water, and is out of time.

She says it’s all because her license application process is being delayed by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“They’ll tell me to give them three days and I kind of told them I don’t have three days. I’m out of time,” said Donna Morton, a nurse at the Charles B. Webster Correctional Center and a frontline worker of 20 years.

She spent Christmas in a hotel room.

She says she applied to renew her nursing license back in October. But she says it hasn’t been processed yet, despite the need for nurses. And she’s now going on two months without working.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office admits there are delays getting nurses in scrubs. They tell us in a normal year, processing takes about seven business days. But on average, it’s now around 15 business days.

But that’s still nowhere near as long as Morton says she’s been waiting.

“I’ve done my time, I’ve turned in all my documents and to no avail. I still don’t have my license,” she said.

The Secretary of State’s Office says it’s processed 962 licenses for registered nurses since Dec. 1. The staff says the biggest thing causing delays for nurses is a large number of temporary licenses for new graduates and out-of-state nurses.

Since the pandemic, they say they’ve processed more than 5,000 of those.

“I’ve written plea letters. My employer, she’s written plea letters,” Morton said.

But it’s not enough for her, as all she wants is to join the growing list of nurses who are back with their patients.

“To me, it’s a simple, simple solution: Let me work,” Morton said.

For nurses in the same situation as Morton, the Secretary of State’s Office says you can help them process things faster if you do not send documents more than once unless asked to. They also ask you also avoid calling the day after you submit to check your application status.

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