February 28, 2024

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‘WTAE Listens:’ The nursing shortage

‘WTAE Listens:’ The nursing shortage

‘WTAE Listens:’ The nursing shortage



LISTENS. I’M MICHELLE WRIGHT. THIS MORNING WE’RE FOCUSING ON THE NURSING SHORTAGE, LEAVING HOSPITALS NATIONWIDE AND RIGHT HERE AT HOME IN CRISIS. FROM THE ISSUES WITH RECRUITING STUDENT NURSES TO THE STRUGGLE OF RETAINING CURRENT NURSES TO THE PROPOSAL LEGISLATION IN HARRISBURG THAT COULD HELP PROPERLY STAFF HOSPITALS INTENSIVE MANIA AGAIN. AND WE START THIS MORNING HEARING FROM A NURSE EXPERIENCING THE HARDSHIPS FIRSTHAND AND HOW THEY’RE IMPACTING PATIENT CARE. TO FIND OUT JUST HOW SERIOUS THIS PROBLEM IS, WE INVITED IN A LABOR AND DELIVERY NURSE, SAM MILLER, TO TALK ABOUT THIS PROBLEM WITH THE SHORTAGE OF NURSES. LET ME JUST ASK YOU, IS IT A PROBLEM? YOU KNOW, IT’S A MAJOR PROBLEM, ESPECIALLY IN THE PITTSBURGH REGION. WE KNEW THIS PROBLEM WAS COMING FOR YEARS BEFORE COVID. NURSING SCHOOL ENROLLMENT WAS DOWN AND BOOMERS WERE RETIRING. AND THEN COVID HAPPENED AND IT MADE EVERYTHING TEN TIMES WORSE AND TEN TIMES FASTER. HOW IS IT IMPACTING THE PATIENTS? YOU KNOW, NURSES ARE EXPECTED TO DO TWICE THE AMOUNT OF WORK BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE THE STAFF, YOU KNOW, AND IN WEST PENN, WE ARE LUCKY WE WERE PART OF A UNION AND CAN HOLD OUR ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE FOR STAFFING STANDARDS. AND WE GET A SEAT AT THE TABLE WITH A CHAIR AND REALLY GET OUR VOICES HEARD BECAUSE WE CAN SPEAK AS ONE. BUT UPMC SETS THE STANDARDS IN THE REGION FOR PAY AND STAFFING, AND THREE FOURTHS OF THE NURSES IN PITTSBURGH AREA WORK FOR UPMC. AND UNTIL UPMC IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE AND PEOPLE START SPEAKING UP SAYING THINGS AREN’T RIGHT AND WE NEED TO DO BETTER FOR NURSES PAY AND HOSPITAL WORKER PAY AND STAFFING RATIOS IN THE REGION, THINGS AREN’T GOING TO CHANGE. WELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE PAY. SOMETIMES THE STARTING PAY IS ABOUT $30 AN HOUR AND IT CAN GO UP FROM THERE DEPENDING ON DEGREES INVOLVED AND LOTS OF OTHER THINGS. IS THE PAY THE PROBLEM? WELL, YOU KNOW, THE QUICK FIX HERE THIS STARTED WITH DURING COVID WAS WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE BRINGING TRAVELING NURSES IN TO FIX THE PROBLEM TEMPORARILY, BUT IT’S NOT TEMPORARY. NOW, YOU BRING WE’RE BRINGING NURSES IN FOR 2 TO 2 AND A HALF TIMES THE PAY AS YOUR OWN COMPANIES, NURSES AS A NURSE. WHEN I’M WORKING ALONGSIDE, USUALLY DOING MORE WORK THAN THE TRAVELING NURSES FOR LESS THAN HALF THE PAY, IT REALLY CREATES DISSATISFACTION. I’VE TALKED TO SOME OF YOUR FELLOW NURSES ABOUT THE SITUATION AND THEY SAID IT COST ABOUT $80,000 TO REINTEGRATE A NURSE TO TRAIN A NEW NURSE. AND PEOPLE ARE COMING AND GOING. AND SO THE MONEY IS THERE. THEY’RE PAYING TRAVEL NURSES SO MUCH MORE MONEY. IS IT A PROBLEM IN THE WAY THE MONEY’S DISTRIBUTED? CAN IT BE FIXED? YES. THEY NEED TO INVEST IN THE STAFF. THEY ALREADY HAVE AND FOCUS ON RETAINING THE NURSES. THEY HAVE INVESTED THAT $80,000 TO ON BOARD AND TRAIN AND THE SENIOR NURSES THAT KNOW THEIR JOB AND ARE TRAINING ALL THESE TRAVELING NURSES AND NEW NURSES. WE NEED TO INVEST IN THE NURSES WE HAVE WHEN WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PAY. I ALSO WANT TO ASK HOW YOU FEEL WHEN YOU SEE THE PUBLISHED SALARIES OF SOME OF THE CEOS WHEN WE’RE SEEING. $10 MILLION AND EIGHT AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS FOR ONE PERSON. IS THAT EVER BROUGHT UP WHEN YOU’RE ON THE FLOOR, WHEN YOU’RE FIGHTING FOR $0.50 AND A DOLLAR DIFFERENTIAL FOR YOUR CHARGES AND THEN AN ARTICLE COMES OUT THAT THE CEO GOT, YOU KNOW, COUPLE MILLION BONUS OR RAISE. IT’S VERY DISHEARTENING. AND I THINK THAT’S PART OF THE PROBLEM WITH THE WHOLE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL IS WE FEEL UNDERVALUED AND UNDERAPPRECIATED. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE BEFORE WE LET YOU GO? NO, JUST HUG THE NURSE. I DON’T KNOW. DURING COVID, WE WOULD SAY HEALTH THANK YOU TO THE HEALTH CARE HEROES. AND I THINK SO MANY PEOPLE REALLY STILL MEAN THAT. IS THAT WHAT YOU DO? WE SEE WHAT YOU DO AND WHAT YOU’VE DONE OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, AND WE JUST THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. THANK YOU. AND I THINK THE NURSES DO REALIZE THAT THE PUBLIC REALLY DO SEE THEM AS HEROES. AND I JUST HOPE THAT HEALTH CARE COMPANIES CAN ALSO TREAT US LIKE WE DESERVE. ALL RIGHT. THANKS FOR BEING HERE. THANK YOU. TO REACH OUT TO THE MAJOR HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS IN THE REGION ABOUT THIS EDITION OF WTA LISTENS AND WE WILL HAVE MORE ON THAT LATER THIS HALF HOUR. RIGHT NOW, THOUGH, NOT ONLY ARE AN UNPRECEDENTED NUMBER OF NURSES LEAVING THE FIELD OR RETIRING, BUT SCHOOLS ARE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME ENROLLING STUDENTS INTO NURSING PROGRAM ROOMS. THIS MORNING, HEALTH CARE EDUCATOR TOURS WITH CARLISLE UNIVERSITY ARE GIVING US INSIGHT INTO WHAT’S BEHIND THE DROP IN POTENTIAL FUTURE. NURSES AND WHAT THEY’RE DOING TO TRY TO GET THOSE NUMBERS BACK UP. WE WANT TO WELCOME NOW RHONDA MANVEL AND JANICE NASH, BOTH WITH CARLISLE UNIVERSITY. AND YOU GUYS ARE KIND OF GROUND CENTER FOR WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH NURSING. HOW IS IT GOING IN TERMS OF TRYING TO ATTRACT STUDENTS TO LEARN TO BE NURSES? WELL, I THINK I COULD SAY THAT, YOU KNOW, IT’S CHALLENGING. IT’S CHALLENGING. WE’RE IN A SITUATION WHERE ON ONE SIDE WE HAVE WHAT’S CALLED THE DEMOGRAPHIC CLIFF, WHERE OUR HIGH SCHOOL HIGH SCHOOLS ARE NOT GRADUATING THE LARGE VOLUME OF STUDENTS THAT THEY USED TO. AND THAT’S EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO DECLINE BY 10 TO 15{33c86113bcc32821f63c6372852a0f501e07fff55ce3ce61b15b246c5f8c531c} OVER THE NEXT 10 TO 20 YEARS. SO WE HAVE A MUCH SMALLER POOL OF STUDENTS WHO ARE WHO WE CAN ATTRACT INTO NURSING. AND THERE IS ALSO THE POST-PANDEMIC EFFECT THAT WE’RE SEEING WHERE THE CHOICE OF NURSING THERE’S HESITATION AROUND IT THAT WE HAD NOT SEEN BEFORE. HOW DO YOU GET MORE NURSING STUDENTS? I THINK INTERACTING WITH SOME OF THE HIGH SCHOOLS, WE HAVE A PROGRAM IN THE SUMMER THAT WE HAVE STUDENTS COME AND FIND OUT ABOUT HEALTH CARE CAREERS AND OF COURSE, OUR PERSONAL FOCUS IS NURSING. BUT JUST KIND OF SHOWING THE BENEFITS OF IT. I THINK PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF THE FACULTY WHO ARE INVOLVED, I MEAN, WE TALK ABOUT WHAT A GREAT CAREER NURSING IS, HOW MANY, YOU KNOW, HOW FLEXIBLE IT IS. THERE’S SO MANY DIFFERENT OPTIONS AND THINGS YOU CAN DO. AREAS ESPECIALLY THAT YOU CAN PRACTICE IN. SO REALLY JUST FOCUSING ON THE HIGHLIGHTS, EVEN THOUGH IT’S VERY HARD WORK, THERE’S A LOT OF BENEFITS AND WE TRY TO FOCUS ON THAT. DESCRIBE FOR ME HOW FULFILLING IT IS TO BE A NURSE, THOUGH. I MEAN, WELL, YOU KNOW, I’M YOU KNOW, I’VE BEEN A NURSE FOR WELL OVER 30 YEARS AND AND I STILL AM EXCITED ABOUT NURSING. YOU KNOW, FOR FOR ME, FOR US, FOR THOSE IN THE PROFESSION. AND I BELIEVE I CAN SPEAK FOR ALL OF US. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE VERY FEW CAREERS THAT YOU CAN UNDERTAKE IN WHICH YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN THAT ENDEAVOR PERSON’S LIFE. THEN YOU MAKE WHEN YOU’RE A NURSE, BEING ABLE TO BE THERE. WHEN PEOPLE ARE AT SOMETIMES THE LOWEST POINT IN THEIR EXISTENCE AND THE NURSE IS ABLE TO BE THERE AND SUPORT THEM AND BE WITH THEM IN THAT MOMENT. AND I WOULD SAY, YOU KNOW, AKALA IS SOMETHING THAT WE REALLY PRIDE OURSELVES IN, IS THIS IN HELPING STUDENTS COME TO UNDERSTAND AND THE VALUE OF EMPATHY, CARING AND ETHICAL COMPORTMENT OF THE NURSE. AND WE REALLY BELIEVE THAT THAT IS WHAT THEY BRING TO EVERY SITUATION WITH ALL OF THEIR PATIENTS. FINALLY, I WANT TO ASK YOU, IS THIS NURSING SHORTAGE SOMETHING THAT’S FIXABLE? IT HAS TO BE. I MEAN, SOCIETY ABSOLUTELY DEPENDS ON IT. WE HAVE TO FIX THIS PROBLEM. PEOPLE NEED NURSING CARE AND THEY NEED THE HIGHEST QUALITY OF NURSING CARE. SO, YOU KNOW, I THINK I REALLY AM VERY HOPEFUL THAT WORKING TOGETHER WITH PRACTICE PARTNERS, WITH EDUCATION, WITH GOVERNMENT ENTITIES, WITH STATE AGENCIES, WE CAN COME TOGETHER AND WE CAN FIX THIS PROBLEM. I WOULD AGREE. AND WE HAVE TO REALLY LOOK AT NURSES ARE PRETTY MUCH EVERYWHERE. YOU KNOW, WHEN I GOT OUT OF SCHOOL, YOU WORKED IN THE HOSPITAL. THAT’S WHERE NURSES WORKED. BUT NOW THERE ARE SO MANY COMMUNITY AGENCIES AND THERE’S SO MUCH MORE OF A NEED FOR NURSING CARE, LONG TERM CARE, AND OUR GERIATRIC POPULATION, AS WELL AS IN THE PEDIATRIC AND IN SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN. I MEAN, WITH WHAT’S THE HOW THE HOW THE SOCIETY AND COUNTRY HAS CHANGED. THERE ARE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR NURSES, BUT THERE’S SO MUCH NEED FROM THE PUBLIC TO HAVE THE NURSES AVAILABLE. SO I DO HAVE HOPE THAT THERE IS A FIX. ALL RIGHT. THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING HERE. THANK YOU FOR HAVING US. MICHELLE, STILL AHEAD ON W TO LISTENS ADDRESSING CONCERNS ABOUT PATIENT SAFETY. THE PATIENT SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID TO GO INTO THE HOSPITAL. WHEN WE COME BACK, HOW SOME LOCAL HOSPITALS ARE WORKING TO KEEP THE NURSE TO PATIENT RATIO AT SAFE LEVELS, DESPITE FEWER NURSES ON THE FLOOR. WELCOME BACK TO W T A LISTENS. AS PART OF OUR PROGRAM, WE WANTED TO HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH THE BIGGEST HOSPITAL SYSTEMS IN OUR AREA, UPMC, HLN AND EXCEL, A HEALTH ONLY ALLEGHENY HEALTH NETWORK AGREED TO JOIN US FOR THIS CONVERSATION. AGENTS CHIEF NURSE EXECUTIVE IS DETAILING SEVERAL OF THE INCENTIVES TO BRING NURSES BACK AND ADDRESSING PATIENT SAFETY CONCERNS ABOUT THE NURSE TO PATIENT RATIO. I WANT TO THANK CLARE’S ANGRILY FOR JOINING US. HERE YOU ARE WITH A JEN AND YOU ARE THE CHIEF NURSE EXECUTIVE. SO YOU WERE RIGHT IN THE THICK OF WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW. YES. MY FIRST QUESTION IS SOME OF THE NURSES HAVE TOLD US THAT IT’S DIFFICULT BECAUSE OF THE NURSE TO PATIENT RATIO. SO MY FIRST QUESTION IS, SHOULD VIEWERS BE WORRIED ABOUT GOING TO THE HOSPITAL? IS IT DANGEROUS? SO WE DO HAVE A NURSING SHORTAGE. WE’VE HAD A NURSING SHORTAGE FOR A WHILE. EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. BUT WE’VE MANAGED TO THROUGH THAT WE’VE MANAGED THROUGH THAT BY BRINGING IN SUPPLEMENTAL STAFFING AND BY ENHANCING THE CURRENT STAFF THAT WE HAVE. BUT A PATIENT SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID TO GO INTO THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE WE WILL NOT PUT PATIENTS OR OUR STAFF INTO ANY DANGEROUS SITUATION WHERE THEY HAVE TOO MANY PAID PATIENTS TO TAKE CARE OF. SO THAT IS REASSURING. BUT THERE IS A SHORTAGE THAT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH. SOME OF THE NURSES HAVE TOLD US IN PENNSYLVANIA THERE ARE ABOUT 100,000 NURSES THAT ARE NOT WORKING FOR WHATEVER REASON. RIGHT. THEY SAID IT WAS A PROBLEM EVEN BEFORE COVID. BUT COVID CERTAINLY HAS MADE IT WORSE. SO CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO TRY TO ATTRACT THESE NURSES ALREADY CERTIFIED BACK INTO THE FIELD? YEAH, THERE’S A LOT OF THINGS THAT WE’RE DOING TO INCENTIVIZE NURSES TO COME BACK INTO NURSING. NURSES WHO HAVE LEFT THE PROFESSION FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES, TO JUST TAKE A BREAK FROM NURSING. WE DO OFFER A PROGRAM FOR NURSES WHO WANT TO RETURN TO PRACTICE. WE GIVE THEM A REFRESHER COURSE. WE ALLOW THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO PICK WHEREVER THEY WANT TO WORK AND SET THEIR OWN SCHEDULES. WHAT WE LEARNED DURING THE PANDEMIC, WHICH WAS MOST VALUABLE TO NURSES, IS THE ABILITY TO SET THEIR OWN SCHEDULES AND NOT BE RIGID AND WORK ONLY 12 HOUR SHIFTS, ONLY WEEKENDS, EVERY OTHER WEEKEND. SO WE’VE DONE A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS TO MAKE THOSE SCHEDULES FLEXIBLE. BUT WE’VE ALSO LOOKED AT THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAY, WHAT IS IT THAT WE CAN DO TO KEEP YOU WORKING AT THE BEDSIDE? BECAUSE IF WE’RE HONEST ABOUT THIS SHORTAGE, THAT’S WHERE THE BIGGEST ISSUE IS. IT’S NURSES IN DIRECT CARE, TAKING CARE OF PATIENTS, A COMPLEMENT OF PATIENTS IN HOSPITALS. THAT’S WHERE THE SHORTAGE IS. SO HOW DO WE EXTEND THE LIFE OF THAT NURSE? WE ALLOW THAT NURSE TO MAYBE WORK PART TIME IN THE INPATIENT SIDE AND PART TIME IN ANOTHER AREA OF THE HOSPITAL WHERE IT’S A LITTLE LESS INTENSE AND STRESSFUL. IS IT WORKING THESE INCENTIVES? IT IS. I FEEL LIKE IT IS. WE’VE SEEN PROBABLY 25{33c86113bcc32821f63c6372852a0f501e07fff55ce3ce61b15b246c5f8c531c} OF OUR NURSES THAT LEFT TO GO DO OTHER THINGS SINCE THE PANDEMIC COME BACK. AND THEY COME BACK BECAUSE THEY LOVE THIS WORK. THEY HAVE A CALLING TO DO THIS WORK AND BECAUSE THESE INCENTIVES THAT WE’RE DOING THE WORK IS SO HARD. BUT IT’S SO VITAL TO OUR REGION AND OUR AGING POPULATION BECAUSE HOSPITALS ARE GOING TO HAVE THEIR HANDS FULL MORE AND MORE. WE DO HAVE OUR HANDS FULL. AND AND THE REASON IS, IS BECAUSE WE DON’T TURN PATIENTS AWAY. SO WE TALK TO THE NURSES ALL THE TIME ABOUT SOMETIMES THE REASON YOU MAY HAVE MORE PATIENTS THAN YOU PLANNED ON HAVING FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SHIFT, YOUR COMPLEMENT IS A LITTLE BIT LARGER IS BECAUSE PATIENTS WANT TO COME INTO OUR ORGANIZATION. THEY WANT TO GET CARE THERE. IT WHEN THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WAS PASSED, EVERYBODY GOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET CARED FOR. AND THOSE A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT WE SAW WERE VERY SICK BECAUSE THEY HADN’T HAD ANY CARE, BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T HAVE INSURANCE. WE WEREN’T PREPARED STAFF WISE, WORKFORCE WISE, FOR THAT INFLUX. AND ONCE WE FINALLY GOT OUR FOOTING AND THEN COVID HIT, THAT CAUSED A SHORTAGE AGAIN, BECAUSE PEOPLE LEFT THE PROFESSION, THEY TOOK WORK FROM HOME JOBS, OR THEY JUST DECIDED THEY WANTED TO RETIRE EARLY. SO IT’S INCUMBENT UPON US TO SAY WE WANT TO CONTINUE TO SEE PATIENTS. WE DON’T WANT TO CLOSE BEDS BECAUSE WE HAVE WE HAVE PATIENTS THAT ARE WAITING TO GET INTO OUR ORGANIZATION AND OUR NURSES ARE THE ONES THAT ARE HELPING US SEE THESE PATIENTS. AND THEY’RE DOING A GREAT JOB DOING IT. IT’S NOT JUST OUR NURSES, THOUGH. IT’S OUR ENTIRE HEALTH CARE TEAM. THIS IS AN ORCHESTRA THAT PLAYS TOGETHER WELL EVERY SINGLE DAY FROM OUR PHYSICIAN STAFF TO OUR PARAPROFESSIONALS, TO OUR SOCIAL WORKERS, OUR CASE MANAGERS, OUR NURSES, EVERYBODY. THIS IS SUCH A TEAM. AND PATIENTS SHOULD FEEL VERY GOOD. IF YOU’RE SICK IN WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, THAT’S A GOOD PLACE TO BE SICK BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO GET CARED FOR VERY WELL. WELL, I APPRECIATE YOU JOINING US. IT MEANS A LOT TO ME TODAY ON BEHALF OF ALLEGHENY HEALTH NETWORK. THANKS FOR BEING HERE. THANK YOU. COMING UP NEXT, FINDING THE ROOT OF THE NURSING CRISIS. WE FACE A HEALTH CARE STAFFING CRISIS AND COVID CRYSTALLIZED THAT, BUT IT WASN’T THE CAUSE. WHAT A LOCAL DOCTOR AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE SAYS IS TRULY BEHIND IT. AND THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION AND HARRISBURG, HE SAYS, COULD HELP. WELCOME BACK TO LISTEN. THIS MORNING WE’RE HEARING FROM SOMEONE WITH A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON THE STAFFING ISSUES INVOLVING NURSES. DR. ARVIN VENKAT IS NOT ONLY AN EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, AND HE’S ALSO NOW A STATE REPRESENTATIVE. AND HE’S TALKING TO US ABOUT PROPOSE LEGISLATION IN HARRISBURG THAT COULD HELP REMEDY THE WORKER CRISIS STATEWIDE. SO NOW FOR SOMEONE WHO KIND OF KNOWS BOTH SIDES OF WHAT’S GOING ON, BOTH IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM AND WHAT CAN BE DONE LEGISLATIVELY, WE’RE BRINGING IN DR. ARVIND VENKAT. THANKS FOR JOINING US. THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. SO I’M GOING TO GET RIGHT TO IT. NOW THAT YOU’RE IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE, IS THERE SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN DO TO TO STOP THE LOSS OF ALL OF THESE NURSES? SO I THINK THERE ARE THINGS THAT WE NEED TO DO. YOU KNOW, WE’VE FACED A HEALTH CARE STAFFING CRISIS AND COVID CRYSTALLIZED THAT, BUT IT WASN’T THE CAUSE. IT’S REALLY A COMBINATION OF FEWER PEOPLE GOING INTO NURSING AND HEALTH PROFESSIONS. WHAT ARE THE WORK CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH PEOPLE ARE, YOU KNOW, TAKING CARE OF PATIENTS AS WELL AS HOW DO WE MAKE SURE THAT THE MONEY THAT WE’RE SPENDING IN HEALTH CARE IS SPENT ON BEDSIDE PATIENT CARE FOR, YOU KNOW, THE VAST MAJORITY OF IT? AND I THINK THERE ARE THINGS THE STATE CAN DO IN ORDER TO ADDRESS THAT. SO WHERE DOES IT STAND? I KNOW THAT THERE IS SOME LEGISLATION ON THE TABLE RIGHT NOW. DESCRIBE WHAT THAT IS AND IF IT WILL CONTINUE TO GO ON. RIGHT. SO THERE’S A THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PIECES OF LEGISLATION THAT ARE THERE. THE ONE THAT IS MOST PROMINENT IS CALLED THE SAFE STAFFING LEGISLATION. AND IT’S REALLY FOCUSED ON MAKING SURE THAT NURSES AND OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONALS HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE WHEN TALKING ABOUT THEIR WORK CONDITIONS, AS WELL AS SHOULD THERE BE RATIOS AND MAKING SURE THAT NURSES AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS ARE TAKING CARE OF A CERTAIN NUMBER OF PATIENTS SO THEY CAN DO IT VERY WELL. I’M A CO-SPONSOR OF THAT LEGISLATION, BUT I DON’T THINK IT’S THE ONLY PART OF THIS SOLUTION. WE HAVE A REAL ISSUE WITH BRINGING MORE INDIVIDUALS INTO THE HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE AND SPECIFICALLY IN NURSING. SO THERE’S LEGISLATION TO TRY AND SUPPORT FINANCIALLY NURSING STUDENTS AND TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE NURSING INSTRUCTORS. BUT THAT NEEDS TO BE COUPLED WITH IF SOMEONE GETS HELP FROM THE STATE TO BECOME A NURSE, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAVE A CERTAIN ACCOUNTABILITY FOR BEING AT THE BEDSIDE FOR A PERIOD OF TIME. THE ANALOGY THAT I’M AWARE OF IS IN THE MILITARY. I HAD A NUMBER OF COLLEAGUES WHO THE MILITARY PAID FOR THEIR MEDICAL EDUCATION, AND THEN THE MILITARY SAYS, YOU ARE GOING TO GIVE US A PERIOD OF SERVICE IN CARING FOR INDIVIDUALS IN THE MILITARY THROUGH HEALTH CARE. AND I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT MODELS LIKE THAT. AND THE LAST PART OF IT IS WE SEE A LOT OF CONCERNS IN HEALTH CARE. AND I SEE THIS NOW AS BOTH A LEGISLATOR AND AS AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN. ARE WE SPENDING OUR HEALTH CARE DOLLARS ON PATIENT CARE? WE KNOW THAT WE SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON HEALTH CARE, ADMINISTRATION, AND THERE IS A ROLE TO THAT. BUT IN THE UNITED STATES AND IN PENNSYLVANIA, WE SPEND A HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY ON HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION, AND THAT’S MONEY THAT COULD BE SPENT AT THE BEDSIDES. SO HOW DO WE ENSURE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THAT? AND THEN HOW DO WE MAKE SURE THAT PATIENT COSTS AREN’T GOING UP SO ASTRONOMICALLY THAT THEY CAN’T TAKE CARE AND DON’T WANT TO BE IN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM BECAUSE THEY’RE WORRIED FOR THE COST? I HAVE LEGISLATION THAT WILL TRY TO ADDRESS THE MEDICAL DEBT CRISIS THAT WE HAVE FOR PATIENTS. AND SO I THINK WE NEED ALL OF THOSE PIECES OF LEGISLATION TO MOVE FORWARD TO ADDRESS THIS. HOW SERIOUS IS THE PROBLEM RIGHT NOW? WHAT SHOULD PATIENTS BE WORRIED ABOUT GOING TO BE TREATED? I THINK IT’S VERY SERIOUS. YOU KNOW, WHEN I HAD A POLICY HEARING IN MCCANDLESS AND IN JANUARY, WHERE I BROUGHT NEARLY 20 OF MY COLLEAGUES TO MCCANDLESS TO HEAR TESTIMONY FROM LOCAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. AND ONE OF THE STORIES I TOLD WAS OF A COLLEAGUE OF MINE WHO WALKED INTO AN EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT WHERE I WORK. IT’S A 30 BED EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT, 20 OF THOSE BEDS. WHEN HE WALKED IN IN THE MORNING WERE TAKEN UP BY PATIENTS WHO WERE ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL. BUT THERE WAS NO STAFFING THERE WERE NO BEDS FOR THEM TO LEAVE THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT. SO THAT IS, YOU KNOW, A HUGE STRESS ON THE SYSTEM. HE WENT AND EXAMINED A PATIENT WHO HAD BEEN WAITING IN THE WAITING ROOM THERE FOR ALMOST 11 HOURS, DISCOVERED THAT SHE HAD A SURGICAL CONDITION AND, YOU KNOW, QUICKLY MANAGED TO HAVE HER GO FROM THE WAITING ROOM TO THE OPERATING ROOM. NOW, THAT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN, BUT THERE ARE STORIES LIKE THIS AND ACTUALLY FAR MORE SEVERE STORIES THAN THIS ACROSS PENNSYLVANIA AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY. DO YOU THINK THIS CAN EVEN BE FIXED? I DO THINK IT CAN BE FIXED, BUT I THINK IT’S GOING TO BOTH TAKE TIME AND TO RECOGNIZE THAT THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET THAT THIS IS GOING TO REQUIRE STEPS ON THE PIPELINE OF INDIVIDUALS ENTERING THE HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE, MAKING SURE THAT THEY CAN WORK UNDER CONDITIONS THAT ALLOW THEM TO CARE FOR PATIENTS IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. AND THEN TO MAKE SURE, LIKE I SAID, THAT THE MONEY WE’RE INVESTING IN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS SPENT THAT WAY AND THAT PATIENTS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET HEALTH CARE IN A WAY THAT IS COST EFFECTIVE. WELL, WE WILL BE FOLLOWING ALL OF YOUR LEGISLATE ACTION THROUGH AND WE’LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS. ABSOLUTELY. AND THANK YOU AGAIN. WE WILL RETURN WITH MORE OF YOU TO LISTEN TO AFTER THE BREAK. WELCOME BACK TO W TO LISTEN BEFORE WE GO, I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU, THE VIEWER. WHAT ARE SOME PROBLEMS THAT YOU ARE SEEING WHERE YOU LIVE? SEND US AN EMAIL W TO E TO LISTENS AT HER SCHOOL. TOM. THANKS FOR JOINING US. HAVE A GOOD WEEK.

‘WTAE Listens:’ The nursing shortage

This week on “WTAE Listens,” we’re focusing on the nursing shortage leaving hospitals nationwide, and right here at home, in crisis.From the issues with recruiting nursing students, to the struggle to retain current nurses, to the proposed legislation in Harrisburg that could help properly staff hospitals in Pennsylvania again. Watch the full episode of WTAE Listens in the video player above.

This week on “WTAE Listens,” we’re focusing on the nursing shortage leaving hospitals nationwide, and right here at home, in crisis.

From the issues with recruiting nursing students, to the struggle to retain current nurses, to the proposed legislation in Harrisburg that could help properly staff hospitals in Pennsylvania again.

Watch the full episode of WTAE Listens in the video player above.