Nursing shortage among ‘perfect storm’ affecting patient care, group says

Written by on October 18, 2021

Nursing shortage among ‘perfect storm’ affecting patient care, group says

By Tyler Pratt

October 18, 2021

FILE – In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, registered nurse Chrissie Burkhiser puts on personal protective equipment as she prepares to treat a COVID-19 patient in the in the emergency room. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Health care centers across the Lehigh Valley are recruiting nurses amid staffing shortages. In some cases they’re offering sign-on bonuses of tens of thousands of dollars. But nursing advocates say the state needs to do more about patient care. 

St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network had surgical nurse positions available earlier this month with bonuses of up to $20,000.

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Betsy Snook, chief executive officer at the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, said these incentives aren’t new and neither are the staffing issues.

“We have over the years nursing shortages. It ebbs and flows. We’ve had a nursing shortage for a period of time now, and it doesn’t help that we added to that a pandemic,” Snook said. 

And nursing work is harder. Many are emotionally and physically drained. 

“All of that combined has really led to this sort of perfect storm,” Snook added.

Some nurses burn out and quit and Snook said that the state needs to pass proposed legislation which will create patient-to-nurse ratios for safety and are designed to reduce some of the burden on nurses. 

“We’re talking about patient safety through the correct amount of nurses being on the unit given what the acuity of those patients looks like,” Snook said. 

Two bills are currently in the state Legislature aimed at reducing some of the burden on nurses in commonwealth hospitals. 

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