Tennessee Nurses face staffing shortages and burn out during Covid-19 pandemic

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – The Tennessee Nurses Association says that before the pandemic hospitals were already facing a staffing shortage, but covid-19 has made the problem much worse. With hospitalizations rapidly increasing- nurses are overworked, overwhelmed, and burnt out. 

 “I have never seen anything as devastating as Covid-19 has been,” says Nancy Stevens, Chattanooga Nurse

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a two-fold effect on the nursing industry. Nurses from the “baby boomer” generation, or those toward the end of their career, are choosing to retire. While others who are experiencing burnout are making career changes or taking new paths.

“There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. That constant emotional churn is difficult. For some, it’s just been too much and they are leaving the profession. That’s really difficult to see. We have seen nurses move around within the profession but to actually leave the profession is tough. That’s a little bit different from what we are used to,” says Tina Gerardi, Executive Director of the Tennessee Nurses Association.

Chattanooga Nurse, Nancy Stevens, says she wishes residents could see what healthcare systems are going through each day- perhaps only then, would people treat the pandemic seriously. 

“It’s not a conspiracy theory because all you need to do is come to the hospital and watch what a nurse and health care provider has to go through on a daily basis that has to take care of these people that are dying and are not dying with their families because we’re trying to prevent the spread of covid everywhere,” says Stevens.

The Tennessee Nurses Association tells News 12 that with the constant emotional churn of death and critically ill patients, they don’t have time to process the emotional trauma causing them to burn out so quickly.

“ We need a break. WE need people to get vaccinated so that we are not seeing the influx of people in the ICU and into the hospital because we don’t have enough beds and we don’t have enough workers right now to take care of everybody,” says Gerardi.

The Tennessee Nurses Association says they are seeing an upward trend in student enrollment in schools of nursing. While they are encouraged by this news, it will still take three to four more years before they’re eligible to enter the workforce. 

So what’s the best way for you to help out local nurses and other healthcare professionals? Wear your mask, socially distance yourself, and get vaccinated.

Categories: Chattanooga, COVID-19, Featured, Hamilton County, Health, Local News