SPECIAL REPORT: Nurse shortage impacting RGV as pandemic rolls on

Local News

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO)—The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the importance of nurses in Rio Grande Valley hospitals. 

It also tested their limits to how they can handle seeing patients struggling to breath. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: COVID-19 vaccination distribution in the RGV

“I retired in 2017, I did not have a degree, but I wanted to continue with medicine,” said University of Texas RGV nursing student Mitchell Woods.

After serving over two decades in the navy, now Woods is preparing for his newest challenge. 

“Talking with the patient, getting their take on how things went and things we can do better. The nurses are an integral part of the healthcare team and without them patient care would definitely suffer,” he said.

Some health experts recommend double masking to slow spread of new COVID variants

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Hospital beds across the Rio Grande Valley remain at or near capacity and nurses pushed to the edge.

Woods saw firsthand the effects of the deadly virus. 

“Emphasis on standard precaution like mask and gown and mask gown and face mask,” he said.

The prospect of nursing is also in limbo. The Texas Health and Human Services released an updated nursing supply and demand report. By 2032 Texas will need over 57,000 registered nurses. 

The highest demand will be inside hospitals rooms-inpatient settings. There is without a doubt fear particularly in young individuals 

Over 16% of demand of nurses will not be met. Some are focusing on teaching the next generation of nurses.

UTRGV Dean of Nursing Sharon Radzyminski said she has come across two types of students. 

“Those that aren’t afraid of nothing. They feel nothing can touch them and they feel perfectly fine and do not see what all the fuss is about. And there are those who are scared fearful of themselves. I have elderly grandparents at home. I am afraid of taking the disease home. So, we see both sides of the coin,” she said.

A pandemic like this has not been seen in over a century. She understands the amount of stress this job can have. 

“Part of nursing is the care of others. We are nursing professors we take care of our students, so if someone is really afraid. We give them the option to sit out a semester,” she said.

But she wants to give hope about the future for this profession. Saying there is always someone willing to help those in need. 

“This pandemic showcases what nurses is and what nurses do,” said Radzyminski. 

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