Employee shortage, COVID-19 surge leave ICU nurses exhausted

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MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — The stress levels inside Florida’s COVID-19 ICUs right now are unimaginable. 

Normally, when we speak with nurses – it’s set up through the hospital. But this story started with an anonymous email sent to NewsNation.

“I am writing to you on behalf of the registered nurses at Broward Health Medical Center as a plea for help,” it read.

When asked why they didn’t want to show their face, the nurse responded, “We are supposed to portray this healthcare hero to everyone and make it seem like we have everything under control in the ICU and that is not the case.”

Broward Health in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is one of the 10 largest public hospital systems in the U.S. But nurses say they’re overworked and critically short-staffed. Normally, one ICU nurse would care for two COVID patients. Now, they’re caring for three or four.

“We are in such a critically short-staffing scenario we cannot properly care for the patients,” said the nurse.

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The nurse shortage is not unique to this hospital. It’s a problem nationwide.

Cheryl Wild is a chief nursing officer at Broward Health. She says they recognize the burden, but they can’t hire fast enough.

“We are doing everything we can to fill some of those holes,” said Wild. “We have contracted with agency staff and put in surge plans in order to support the teams at the bedside.”

These ICU nurses say more than half of their colleagues have already quit and the surge in cases is making the shortage worse.

“It is beyond stressful. We feel like we are drowning. It feels like no one is listening to us and we are not getting the help we need,” said the anonymous nurse.

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