Hospitals race to fill in open nursing positions following statewide shortage

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BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33)(FOX 44) – One of the biggest obstacles for hospitals during this outbreak is the lack medical staff, especially when it comes to finding nurses.

Rosa Clemente,a registered nurse for Ochsner Health, says her job prepared her for the level of anxiety that accompanies an outbreak.

“It’s a scary time for everyone,” Clemente says. “As a nurse especially in the emergency room, you come in a prepared or at least mentally prepared for what could come through the door.”

Clemente says she’s used to the chaos of an emergency room. When COVID-19 patients get to the emergency room, she’s the first person they see. Everything she does from that point has to be done correctly, otherwise she risks infecting herself and her coworkers.

“We’re wearing N-95 masks, gloves and goggles.”

Before she tends to any patients, she covered head to toe in protective gear. Her eyes are hidden behind thick goggles, she wears a smock to keep fluid off her body, and she has a hair net to keep droplets from getting stuck in her hair. After meeting with each patient, this uniform goes in the trash and reaches for a clean one.

As an RN, Clemente is one of the most sought after professionals in the medical field. People that can do what she does are in limited supply. Before the outbreak , the number of nurses was already low. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the field will need over 200,000 nurse applicants every year until 2026 to fill in the gaps. Now that COVID-19 is here, those gaps need to be filled even faster.

Ochsner is one of the hospitals in desperate need of more nurses. The CEO and president, Warner Thomas says they’ve been hiring out of state nurses, recycling employees, and taking recent grads to pull some of the slack. But even then it’s still been hard to stay fully staffed and that means more work for Clemente, but she says the community makes her job worth it.

“One of the biggest of the biggest problems with Ochsner right now is a staff shortage,” Warner says.

Ochsner is one of the hospitals in desperate need of more nurses. The ceo and president, warner thomas says they’ve been hiring out of state nurses, recycling employees, and taking recent grads to pull some of the slack. But even then it’s still been hard to stay fully staffed and that means more work for clemente, but she says the community makes her job worth it.

“Anything they can do they’re doing,” Clemente says.

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