Nurse becomes truck driver after being attacked on the job

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — After being attacked on the job, one nurse chose to trade in her scrubs for a trucker’s cap.

Leah Gorham, 42, left the job she had for 15 years as a licensed practical nurse to become a licensed long-haul driver.

“I feel the freedom of the road and freedom to make my schedule and be adventurous and see new places I’ve never been before,” Gorham said.

Having some company helps as well — Gorham and her boyfriend, who’s also a truck driver, sometimes drive together.

Staffing shortages in hospitals, which have been plaguing health care systems nationwide since the COVID-19 pandemic began, had already been making Gorham’s job challenging. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when she was assaulted at work.

One day, Gorham said, she heard a co-worker calling for help with a patient.

What she didn’t know at the time was that the patient was becoming increasingly confused. As soon as Gorham went in the room to save her co-worker, she was attacked.

“After I got away from that attack, I was like OK, enough is enough,” Gorham said. “I need to make a change.”

Many hospitals, especially those in rural areas, have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases and staff absences since the surge of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Some hospitals have had to put patients in hallways because of a lack or room elsewhere. Others have had to shut down clinics. Transfers between hospitals have also been difficult, as their ability to accept more patients is limited.

President Joe Biden announced in January that 1,000 military medical personnel will be deployed across the country to help overwhelmed medical facilities, with six medical teams going to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.

Even before the omicron surge, though, the lack of employees in the health care industry has been an issue. The Chartis Group, a health care advisory firm, reported 99% of rural hospitals were already facing a staffing shortage.

To retain nurses during such a stressful time, Gorham has some advice for hospital officials: “Let them take a break.”

Nurses “need to have their vacation,” Gorham said. “They just really need to be able to perform the job that they know how to do, and have the time to do it.”

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