Hospitals in the Upstate and nationwide face staffing shortage


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–According to the state health department, hospitals across the state are reporting staffing shortages. However, most are managing the problem and the average patient may not even notice the difference.

Hospitals across the Upstate are reporting staffing shortages to DHEC.

“Everyone who is working in the healthcare industry at this moment is horribly stressed. They are concerned about their patients, they are concerned about their employment, they’re concerned about their families,” Judith Thompson, CEO of the South Carolina Nurses Association said.

She said the shortage is nothing new.

“We’ve never had a surplus of nurses in South Carolina,” Thompson said.

Even so, it does put a strain on healthcare workers.

“It means that nurses are working longer hours, it means that nurses are working more days with fewer days off, it means that nurses are working in dangerous conditions,” she said.

Hospital systems in the Upstate say the shortage is real, but they’re managing by moving staff to areas of need and contracting outside help.

“They have to do things internally again, that the patient probably wouldn’t even notice, to figure out how to shift staff around, how to shift operations around,” Lara Hewitt, the Vice President of Workforce and Partner Engagement for the South Carolina Hospital Association said.

She said this is something that happened pre-pandemic, but now, it’s a nationwide issue.

“The challenge that we are running into now related the temporary staffing is that almost every hospital in the country is experiencing this because we are in this pandemic,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said high volume of patients, some staff staying home, and others getting sick themselves contributes to this issue. Thompson said some nurses have left to help in other harder hit parts of the country. But they both agree on how the average person can help frontline workers.

“They can do the things that have been proven to be a real help in stopping the spread of this virus,” Thompson said.

“Because if you can do that on your own, you can keep people from getting it, you can stop the spread from putting healthcare workers at risk, and you’re not contributing to the capacity problems that we’re having in the hospital,” Hewitt said.

Both the hospital association and DHEC monitor the needs of hospitals on a daily basis and are prepared to assist with additional resources if needed.

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