Alabama hospitals facing nurse shortage during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — The Alabama Hospital Association said at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shortage of hospital beds and ventilators.

Don Williamson, president of Alabama Hospital Association, said the big thing now is the shortage of staff, specifically nurses.

Williamson said it’s not just a shortage of nurses in hospitals, but also at nursing schools, like UAB.

Ashley Hodges, associate dean for Graduate Clinical Education at UAB School of Nursing, said they aren’t able to meet that faculty to student ratio that would bring those nursing numbers up.

“We lack faculty in the nursing profession. We lack adequate clinical sites. We are competing in these sectors, so these things are standing in our way. I think it’s estimated something like 75,000 students were turned away because we didn’t have the facilities and faculties to educate so at the School of Nursing, we have committed to growth,” Hodges said.

Hodges said there are several other extremes on why there is a shortage of nurses. She said some nurses have been laid or furloughed. She also said some are retiring early or coming out of retirement to help.

Hodges said this is a public health problem.

“The shortage, whether we’re in a pandemic, whether we’re not in a pandemic, it’s going to continue to grow and this isn’t just a nursing problem. This is a problem for our patients, problem for our colleagues and other professionals so it is critical everyone work together on how nurses can best be utilized,” she said.

Williamson said we have not made a dent on the nurse shortage and there are factors that need to be put in place to change that.

“You’re going to get more nurses on the ability to pay more, the ability to have more clinical opportunities, and more faculty to fill those shortages, and it’s not just nurses. It’s respiratory therapists, shortage of healthcare professionals almost across the board in Alabama,” said Williamson.

Williamson said it’s a shortage of nurses and nurse educators. That’s why Hodges said they are focused on not only recruiting nurses, but recruiting nurses who want to become instructors at the UAB School of Nursing.


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