Hospitals facing shortage of nurses as COVID-19 cases increase

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LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Amid the grim numbers, the lingering problem of an acute shortage of nurses was evident long before the pandemic, and the situation has only worsened in recent weeks.

More states and hospitals are now turning to international help. Within the pool of frontline workers helping save lives right now, thousands of skilled nurses from overseas.

Nurse Noel Madic moved from the Philippines and has worked in Ohio and now Nevada.

“America seems to be the best option with the fact that we speak English as a second language in the Philippines and it won’t be much of an adjustment in terms of communication,” Madic said.

There is a growing number of international reinforcements coming to America, and more recruits are in the pipeline.

“Places like the UAE, the UK, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Australia, Jamaica and more,” said Ron Hoppe, CEO of Worldwide Healthstaff Solutions, which brings in professionals from around the world.

Hospital requests for additional help has doubled.

“They’re really not facing a recruiting problem, they’re facing a supply and demand problem and it’s those international nurses that add to the supply as opposed to employers just constantly reshuffling the deck of available workers between themselves,” Hoppe said.

The domestic pool of about 25,000 travel nurses is pretty much tapped out.

“We would love to be able to pull people from all over the country, but right now the entire country is struggling. So, we don’t have the luxury of being able to pull from pools that we normally do,” said Dr. Vanessa Walker, who works at the Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

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The high demand and short supply are especially evident in California where some alternate care facilities have opened but the state is still seeking about 3,000 professionals to work in them and elsewhere.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said requests for federal help remain unfulfilled on Wednesday.

“The biggest issue remains, I’ll just remind everybody of this, it’s staffing,” Newsom said.

Bringing in international staff can be a lengthy process and it may still not be enough to fill the void.

Chelo Velasco is another nurse who moved from the Philippines; she’s now settled and working in Washington.

“I am also telling my friends back home why don’t you pursue your nursing career here in the U.S. because I feel, we really need lots of nurses here right now,” Velasco said.

“Being able to tap in a global supply of experienced professionals is part of an overall plan I think employers need to have in place,” Hoppe said.

According to the American Nurses Association, more than a million new nurses will be needed by 2022; perhaps more due to retiring baby boomers and those who are quitting because of the pandemic.

The shortage is expected to worsen especially in the South and in the West.

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