Yale New Haven Health System faces nurse shortage



Yale Daily News

As the Yale New Haven Health System emerges from the brunt of its battle with coronavirus, it faces another challenge — an ongoing shortage of nurses.

The health system has a “very, very large volume” of open positions, Melissa Turner, senior vice president for human resources at YNHH, told the New Haven Register. Turner attributed the challenges to the increasingly taxing job of being a nurse, as well as to a nationwide labor shortage

Nurses who served during the COVID-19 pandemic encountered numerous patients on ventilators and risked their personal safety to treat patients infected with the highly contagious virus. Now, as local case rates lower, the health system has seen a greater influx of patients as a result of elective surgeries that were rescheduled earlier in the pandemic. These patients are often in a worse condition than usual after putting off procedures for multiple months or years, Turner explained.

Two nurses spoke to the News on the condition of anonymity due to fear of loss of livelihood. They were told by hospital Human Resources not to speak to the media about the issue, according to the nurses. The News could not confirm the veracity of this statement. Media Relations Coordinator for YNHH Mark D’Antonio attempted to connect the News with hospital leadership, but ultimately did not answer multiple requests for comment. He said that no frontline nurses or other hospital staff would be available for the story.

“Working during COVID made them realize that it might not be worth it to be near all that sickness for those long hours for the amount of pay,” one nurse said. “They are just getting burnt out. It is not the hospital or Yale’s fault.”

According to Beth Beckman, chief nursing executive for YNHH, burnout is a major issue among nurses. She cited a survey by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership that showed that 75 percent of nurse leaders saw the emotional health and wellbeing of staff as a major issue.

With the increased workload wrought by the pandemic as well as fewer nurses, Beckman said that YNHH had to ask many nurses to work more hours. She said that nurses have “raised their hand” to make sure patients receive care and added that the hospital has adapted its operations as the pandemic has progressed.

“Our mantra and our real commitment is to take care of our people,” Beckman said. “Our frontline. And I think the most important thing we’re going to do in this space is to listen to their ideas. They commonly have the solutions and to institute them in a way that’s helpful to them. So we absolutely are committed to making sure the frontline helps us modify whatever it is we need in our work environment.” 

According to Beckman, the nursing shortage is nationwide. She said that hospitals are facing the same operational challenges nationally, and probably globally.

Still, Beckman added that

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