The DFW Hospital Council on Thursday reported 415 people hospitalized around the region for COVID-19, an increase of 100 from the week before.
Stephen Love, president and CEO of the council, said that while not sounding an alarm, the upward trend does increase the urgency for filling hospital staffing vacancies, both to care for COVID-19 patients and the rush of people who put off routine care during the pandemic.
Alone, AMN Healthcare is looking to fill 2,000 open positions across the region.
“Having the pandemic occur really was like pouring gasoline on an existing issue, and it really just exacerbated it,” said Division President of Nurse Staffing Solutions Kim Martini.
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Martini said while the shortage has improved since the pandemic’s peak, it remains critical.
“There is a nurse burnout that existed before the pandemic. As you can imagine, everything that our clinicians have been through over the past couple of years has exacerbated that substantially. We're also dealing with an aging population that requires more care, again, something that was occurring pre-pandemic, but it's still part of that root cause. And then we have an aging health care workforce, so clinicians that may be approaching that retirement age,” she said.
While the current increase in COVID cases doesn’t match previous surges, the DFW Hospital Council said it has contributed to a tightening workforce.
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“We have a lot of people coming to the hospital now for things they postponed and put off during the surges, so you still need staff. It's also a tired and exhausted workforce that is trying to take time off. And as people test positive, if we have our workers test positive, you know, they've got a quarantine for probably about five days,” said Love.
In addition to filling the immediate need, Love said his group is focused on long-term solutions.
“Many of our nurses taking adjunct professorships, so they can teach at night to help more nursing graduates graduate. We're trying to do more clinical rotations. We're looking at the upcoming legislative session on how we can do more scholarships and help people enter health care,” he said.
Love added that when talking about the workforce, facilities throughout the industry have been impacted by shortages.