“We’re tired — emotionally, physically, mentally tired,” she said. “We’re all showing up, day after day. In the beginning, nurses were heroes. Today, we’re almost an afterthought.”
In interviews, nurses across the country describe plummeting morale during the latest pandemic surge, marked by utter exhaustion and growing workloads. Some thought the availability of coronavirus vaccines would alleviate the burden on hospitals. Instead, emergency rooms were swamped this summer and early fall, often filled with the young and unvaccinated. The crisis has exacerbated staffing problems that existed before the pandemic, leaving nurses shouldering increasing responsibilities as covid-19 patients fill their units. Some nurses are leaving hospital jobs for more lucrative travel nursing positions. Others are leaving the profession altogether.
[Melanie] Mead said nurses at her hospital may now care for five to seven patients at once, sometimes up to 11 on evening shifts. Before the pandemic, it was closer to three to five.
“There might be some days I’m just eyeballing, making sure they’re doing okay and medicating them and running off to another patient. Sometimes I don’t have that personal connection, and I miss that,” Mead said. “I really miss that — we just don’t have enough time in the day with the amount of patients, which is difficult.”
Nurses are exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, they’re dealing with so much. And in Mississippi, they’re leaving in droves, being pulled from permanent positions by exponentially higher pay for traveling gigs. My latest, with the very talented @paulina_milla https://t.co/rEVbWkXUIg
— Sarah Fowler (@FowlerSarah) October 15, 2021