The latest wave of the Covid pandemic has seen the worst-affected states forced to ration patient care.
The problem has got so bad that healthcare employers and unions across the country are calling on the federal government to take action over the severe staff shortages.
Exacerbating the issue is the fact that thousands of frontline medical workers may face dismissal for refusing to be vaccinated.
How severe are the staff shortages?
It does not look good. With the end of summer and approaching colder months, there will be an expected surge of Covid cases.
However, as it stands, the worst-affected states have already submitted a support request to the National Guard, (which already has 13,000 personnel deployed on pandemic support tasks), to help ease up the issue of staff shortages.
Vaccine mandates will also have an adverse effect. Earlier this week, New York governor, Kathy Hochul, warned that thousands of unvaccinated healthcare workers will lose their jobs if they do not agree to be vaccinated.
The statistics on this are disappointing, to say the least; over 16% of New York state’s health care workers have yet to have the vaccine.
Similar rules are due to be rolled out by state and federal authorities, meaning any unvaccinated medical staff across the USA could face dismissal.
This is on top of the fact many professionals are burnt out after over 18 months of the pandemic.
The statistics here are not good either. According to a survey by McKinsey, over 15 percent of nurses left their job during the first year of the pandemic.
Furthermore, One in five nurses reported they might leave their role in the future, due to the demands of working during the pandemic.
Essentially, statewide staff shortages are going to get worse, before they get better.
Historical staff shortages
The problem of staffing has its roots before the pandemic, however. As any medical professional knows, structural issues and low pay have meant the industry has been in a quandary for many years.
The ANA, which represents 4m registered nurses, has often spoken of staff shortages and that’s long before the outbreak from Wuhan.
The pandemic has sped up the exodus though. Nurses have quit the profession out of stress and exhaustion.
Many are also, understandably concerned about catching Covid-19 and spreading it to loved ones.
Add this to the distrust of the vaccine from many, and you can see how the problem has grown.
The ANA is one of the organizations that has called on the Biden administration for direct assistance.
They propose a crisis meeting between hospitals, unions, government officials, and other experts so that an action plan can be created to resolve some of the issues.
Let’s hope it works.