PITTSBURGH – There is a nationwide shortage of nursing care and local hospitals are suffering.
Claire Zangerle, chief nursing officer of the Allegheny Health Network, tells Channel 11 that the personnel crisis began before the pandemic, but that Covid was making things worse. For one, many nurses were retiring.
“It has become an issue for ahn in that we are no different from any other health system in the whole country,” explained Zangerle. “We saw a wave of a certain age group of our nurses that it was time to retire, and honestly, the pandemic may have retired them a little earlier than they thought.”
In addition, during the pandemic, more nurses in direct patient care took on other nursing professions such as education, research or management.
“We don’t have enough nurses produced by the nursing schools because we don’t have enough instructors in the nursing schools to bring these students through their curriculum to bedside through the program,” explained Zangerle.
AHN currently needs up to 300 caregivers. Zangerle said they are understaffed in bedside nursing, so they offer incentives including paying for certifications, a sign-up bonus for experienced nurses, and an incentive payment beyond the usual overtime hours.
In the meantime, she says the short-term solutions include hiring agency and international nurses to reduce the workload of current nurses.
“In the long term, we want people to get into the nursing profession, so we want to go to middle and high school and talk to students about the value of nursing and what kind of career it is, what we started and had to do because of it Pandemic aside, ”explained Zangerle.
AHN also offers a special refresher program for former nurses who want to return to the practice.
We also contacted UPMC. They are opening their fifth in-house nursing school in August to address this shortage.