Baton Rouge hospitals face nurse shortages as hospitalizations increase

Nursing Home Shortage; Wednesday, Jan. 6

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Across the country, hospitals are seeing a nursing shortage, and it’s even happening here in the capital city.

Right now, Baton Rouge’s local hospitals are trying to find a balance when it comes to taking care of COVID-19 patients and regular patients, and for nurses it’s been a hard couple of months.

Terra Eubanks who works in the ER at Baton Rouge General’s Ascension campus says this year has been, “Chaotic, crazy, totally different from any nursing than I’ve ever done.”

Nicole Scott, who is a COVID-19 nurse at BRG says, “It’s hard, we would like to be able to have more capacity for patients, but without the staff we can’t have more capacity for patients.”

Overall, both nurses and their staffs are struggling to take care of all of their patients as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase.

“Who would have thought in the year of 2020 that we would have had a pandemic such as this that jeopardized the entire public health of our country, and we’re here. The people that are on the frontlines of this are the nurses,” says Monica Nijoka who is the chief nursing officer at BRG.

The main struggle for nurses is finding that balance to care for every type of patient, and it looks like there are not enough hands to go around.

Our Lady of the Lake reports they recruited 50 traveling nurses while 50 team members are out with COVID. That means the extra nurses that were there for additional support are now supplementing the baseline.

Nursing schools are taking additional measures to help out their local hospitals.

“The other thing that we’ve done for COVID in the last two semesters, we graduated our nursing seniors early. So, that was helpful to get them in the workforce sooner. So, we have responded to the pandemic in that way as well,” says Amy who is the dean Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University Nursing School.

Right now the state is funding nursing schools to keep them operating and hopefully keep up with the increasing enrollment if the pandemic continues on like this. Local hospitals say they are increasing payment incentives to keep nurses around, as well.

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