Healthier Mississippi People addresses nursing shortage at UMMC, works to fill in gaps

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A nationwide shortage of nurses has left many hospitals in a bind, even as hospitalizations for COVID-19 begin to decrease. Mississippi is no exception.

Healthier Mississippi People helps manage staffing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson. Right now, their mission is to fill in any gaps in each nursing department. The shortage started long before COVID-19 hit our state in March 2020, but the pandemic exacerbated it.

Executive director Stephen Brown said it’s looking to hire a special kind of person to fill the void.

“What you’ll see here at the medical center are things you won’t see at other places,” Brown said. “This is the place if you want to be exposed to things you won’t see anywhere else. That certainly helps you with your experience, with your knowledge. It opens up so many avenues.”

Nurses said that one of the best part of working at UMMC is the comradery, the respect and the feeling of having a little family at work.

“The team work,” said Keshay Fleming. “There’s unbelievable people here who kick in at the drop of the time to help. Not only the respect that you get from your coworkers from your doctors, from your practitioners. Me myself as a nurse– I don’t get looked past.”

“We all have the same goal,” Rebecca Gilbert said. “We show up to do our best for our patient. In that journey we make a lot of friendships, have a lot of fun, it really makes the days go by.”

Some jobs that are as grueling as being a nurse don’t compensate well for the effort given on the clock. Brown said that at UMMC, that’s not the case.

“Not just well,” Brown said. “Very well so that in addition to the kind of learning, experience, exposure just by being here, you’re also compensated to do it.”

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