Nurse staffing shortage takes a new turn as COVID hospitalizations decrease

Local News

EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — Following the COVID-19 pandemic many hospitals in the valley and across the state were facing a nurse shortage, but conditions are finally taking a turn.

“We’re starting to see some improved numbers in terms of nurses being available and willing to return to the hospitals,” said Cat Domian, Chief Nursing Officer at South Texas Health System in Edinburg.

Domian said even while things are currently improving, that wasn’t the case a few months ago when they faced a nurse shortage and had trouble keeping up.

“It takes a toll not only physically but I also believe it’s taken a toll mentally for a lot of the nurses and so what they were used to in terms of their normal work/life in a hospital really changed drastically,” said Domian.

Many nurses on the field, including Dan Diaz, an Emergency Room Nurse at the McAllen Medical Center said they didn’t expect such a high number of COVID-19 patients in such a short time.

“No one was ready for the high volume of very sick patients and it was that that made it feel like there was such a shortage,” Diaz added.

While some nurses have opted not to return, things are starting to look up for hospitals in the valley. 

“We also have nurses that are returning to the area that had previously left the area to maybe help with the pandemic elsewhere throughout the country,” said Domian.

Nurses retiring was another reason hospitals faced shortages, but Domian and Diaz agree it’s making way for graduate students who are eager to dive into the workforce.

“Some people who weren’t sure about getting into this field they might have backed off a little bit so now we know the ones that are coming in they really know they want to help people,” said Diaz.

Domian said as nursing schools return to in person, she expects enrollment numbers to increase leading to more nurses in the field. 

“We have individuals especially the ones that are coming out of the nursing schools that really want to be a part of the nursing field and the medical field,” she said.  

If another surge were to happen, Domian said what they’ve learned from the past year and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s led them to be better prepared for the future. 

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