LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP/KNWA/KFTA) — Some doctors and nurses in Arkansas say they are dealing with burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder after more than a year of battling the coronavirus pandemic, including a new wave of cases with younger patients.
Dr. Kathy Parnell, an internal medicine specialist at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette she has cried every single day the past week because she is losing young patients.
COVID-19 cases continued to spread across Arkansas, due in part to the more contagious delta variant.
Hospitals have continued to fill up with patients as the state’s vaccination rate remained one of the lowest in the country.
KNWA/FOX24 recently spoke with a local nurse who was traveling the country helping medical facilities in need due to the high rate of burnt-out medical staff.
Travel nurse staffing agencies have a big job on their hands and they are working to fill thousands of positions for hospitals across the country looking for staff trained and ready to hit the ground running.
AYA Healthcare, VP of Account Management, Sophia Morris says the staffing shortage is being felt across the country. It’s especially concerning in hotspots like Missouri, Florida, and here in Arkansas since there is more of a demand for critical care staff to care for COVID patients.
Pre-pandemic the agency would see about 10 to 15 thousand job requests at a given time but now that has more than doubled.
“A lot of clinicians have decided to leave the bedside they are just flat out tired of patient care and they needed a break and so they are taking a break so we are seeing a decline and hospitals are experiencing vacancies as a result of that burnout,” said Morris.
She adds there is also an increase in demand in specialties that weren’t seen during the pandemic. She says some hospitals are making up those surgical procedures that were put on pause during the health crisis and so for example there is a need for operating room nurses.