Nursing shortage affecting Augusta hospitals

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Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017
(News 12 at 6 O'Clock / NBC 26 News at 7)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – After 29 years, Dawn Langley-Brady has experienced good and bad moments in the nursing industry.

She says it's a mix of long hours, overworking and new opportunities like telemedicine and consulting that's adding more layers to Georgia's nursing shortage.

"Many years ago, it was either the hospital, nursing home or the doctor's office. And of course now, care is out in the community, whether it's home health or hospice, nurses can be reviewers for insurance companies, they can be a consultant for businesses."

She started as a registered nurse but then turned to hospice care for better hours while she raised four children.
Now, her students are saying the stress of traditional nursing is turning them away.

"I do my job as an instructor, we all do, to ensure that we are graduating competent, caring nurses to hopefully take our place one day. But if they don't last a year in their new job because it's so stressful, then we need to change the way we are doing things."

One idea, mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios.

ICU's and hospitals would only allow one or two patients per registered nurse during a shift, which Dawn says would give better overall care to patients and less of a workload.

"At times when it's almost impossible to leave the end of your shift feeling like you did a good job, you did everything you could to the best of your ability for your five, six, seven, or eight patients, you think about how great your care could be if you just had your four patients."

Until that happens, Dawn says other opportunities will keep drawing nurses away from the bedside.

"The heartache is there if you lose a patient or someone berates you because of care or they are just venting their stress about their loved one situation. Normally it's not because you did anything wrong but you were there for them to vent on. It's not an easy job. It's a job you have to love to do."