Allegheny Health Network Works To Address Nursing Shortage In Pittsburgh Area – WPXI
PITTSBURGH – Allegheny Health Network is working on a plan to address the nursing shortage nationwide and here in our region. So far, resolving the issue has been a slow process.
The shortage began even before the pandemic, and the months of the pandemic created what AHN chief nurse Claire Zangerle called “the perfect storm.”
“The nursing shortage occurs at the bedside, where direct care is provided in outpatient areas and also in hospitals,” Zangerle said. “We have about 97 positions open at this point, in our inpatient areas in our 13 hospitals, we probably have close to 200 positions open.”
But Zangerle points out that it could be worse.
“Our vacancy rates are higher than we’re used to, they’re not the highest in our history, but they’re higher than we’re used to,” Zangerle added.
There are many reasons for the shortage, and all of them have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
“The pandemic has affected the nursing shortage in that it made people think about their future. Some nursing who were going to retire maybe in a few years, I think the pandemic caused them to maybe retire earlier, ”Zangerle said.
In addition, the pandemic has limited the number of new nurses. Zangerle said many of those who graduated didn’t receive the same training they normally get because they weren’t able to do clinical placements.
To combat the problem, AHN is offering signing bonuses for new nurses. Still, Zangerle said the facility hasn’t been very lucky, in part because established nurses don’t want to start over with a new employer.
Now, AHN focuses on three areas. Nurses who may have left the field and want to come back, nurses from local universities and institutions, and keep the nurses the AHN already has.
“We’re doing everything we can to help reduce their workload because I don’t want nurses taking too many extra shifts as it leads to burnout,” Zangerle said. “We want us to be in we want our nurses to take care of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. “
So, as the shortage persists, what about patients who need nurses? Zangerle points out that this is not a problem. Even with all the obstacles, there are enough nurses to help anyone who needs help.
“Just because there is a shortage of nurses across the country, and even here in western Pennsylvania, doesn’t mean that we don’t have nurses to take care of patients,” he said. Zangerle said. “We can say with great confidence that any patient who needs care, we are here to take care of them.”
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