Hospitals compete for healthcare workers amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Like the rest of the country, there is a drastic nursing shortage in the Valley, and it is being made worse by a new wave of COVID-19 patients, as well as burnout during the pandemic, which began in 18 months ago.

"I think a lot of us can’t believe we’re back here again," said ICU nurse Kendal Gribler.

For hospitals, hiring has become a competition

Valleywise Health, like so many hospitals, has too many patients and not enough staff. They are looking to hire more than 160 RNs and another 160 support staff before other facilities snap them up.

"Our leaders have to be quick and contacting people because there's really not that many," said Valleywise Health Chief Nursing Office Sherry Stotler. "They’re there. They're not necessarily applying for positions."

Banner, the largest hospital system in the state, is also feeling the employee pinch. It currently has more than 1,000 openings for RNs, and more than 300 available support staff spots.

Many reasons behind exodus of nurses

Stotler sees nurses leaving for several reasons, and most trace back to the pandemic. Reasons range from fatigue and reuniting with family, to early retirement and looking for a fresh start.

"Until we get to a manageable number, I think this will be great. We’re not gonna get off this roller coaster up-and-down," said Stotler.

For the nurses sticking it out - it means even more work, with no promises an end is in sight.

"It's my job and I take it seriously, and it doesn’t matter why they're here or whether they're vaccinated or not. The fact is they’re here and they’re sick and they need my help," said Gribler.

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