Nursing shortages nationwide felt in Lowcountry hospital systems

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – State health officials made a call to action earlier this month acknowledging they need more nurses to make sure the vaccine rollout goes smoothly. Trident Healthcare and Roper St. Francis Hospital both detailed that they are stressed like the rest of the country but managing.

Hospitals said they need more than just those with manual power to turn these patients on their sides every two hours, they also need brain power to continue their care.

Mary Kaye Halterman, the Chief Nursing Officer at Trident Medical Center, said ‘when you’re in a critical situation such as a respiratory status is very tenuous.’ In addition to being on top of patient care, being able to work in a team is pivotal as physicians too share the workload.

However, with 12 hour shifts and also having to be the patient’s only source of visitation, Halterman said “you go home, you go to bed, get up, you do it over again, that’s not a lot of time for recoup”.

Between the burnout and South Carolina historically being only able to graduate half of the nurses needed to fill positions, Chief Nursing Officers like Pennie Peralta with Roper St. Francis said they are having to get creative. From traveling nurses to outsourcing from other countries, the hospital system still currently has 80 nursing positions open.

So, we are going to stay dependent on resources to come and live in South Carolina to work for forever. I’ve been a nurse since 1978 and that’s been true the entire time. So, reaching out to say the Philippines as a recruitment method isn’t unusual. We’ll see a lot of hospitals are doing that. It’s interesting that the Philippines is probably one of the few—if not the only that has surplus of nurses.

Pennie Peralta, VP of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer at Roper St. Francis  

That group of nurses from the Philippines is hoped to be here within the next 6 to 10 months for Roper St. Francis. While it seems like a while away, they say the shortage will continue.

Peralta explained that the benefit of working for any health system is that many, like Roper St. Francis, promote within on top of have continued their programs to assist their nurses with higher education opportunities.

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