California nursing shortage attributed to concerns about PPE, COVID risk

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021
California hospitals facing nursing shortage
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Right when they're needed the most, hospitals say the shortage of nurses in California is turning into a full-blown crisis.

Nurses are mourning the loss of one of their own after COVID-19 claimed the life of Southern California registered nurse Davy Macias, a mother of five.

Her family says she contracted the virus while on vacation. Her husband remains in the hospital stricken with COVID.

Nurses are terrified they will contract the virus on the job, continuing the dangerous work of treating coronavirus patients.

SoCal nurse with five children, including newborn, dies from COVID

Some are refusing to do the job unless they are provided the proper personal protective equipment or PPE. That would include masks, gloves, goggles, gowns and more.

This has caused major problems for hospitals nationwide. Hospital administrators are warning a nursing shortage in California is reaching a crisis point.

"Nurses are not in all cases staying at the bedside when they are feeling like their lives are in danger," Rochelle Pardue Okimoto of the California Nurses Association said.

Okimoto says protective equipment for critical care nurses seems to always be in short supply.

"If the hospital industry would have just taken the time to stockpile some PPE then I don't think so many nurses would have felt so afraid for their lives," Okimoto said.

Medical experts say COVID burnout is another huge dilemma that's driving many nurses to quit and the state's new vaccine mandate is compounding the shortage. Okimoto says above all else the biggest issue for nurses remains safety in the workplace.

"What I would call it is a manufactured nursing shortage. There are nurses there but the nurses need the adequate working conditions in order to either stay or come back to the bedside," Okimoto said.

National Nurses United says a lack of proper protective equipment is one huge problem, the other is a lack of proper medical staffing to treat very sick patients.

"National Nurses United asserts that the United States has not experienced a nursing shortage, only a shortage of nurses willing to risk their licenses or the safety of their patients by working under the unsafe conditions the hospital industry has created. By deliberately refusing to staff our nation's hospital units with enough nurses to safely and optimally care for patients, the hospital industry has driven nurses away from direct patient care."