Updated: Jul 5
Don't miss this quick listen from NPR's Consider This visiting the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center.
While the COVID Public Health Emergency has ended, Consider This takes a look at the impact COVID continues to have on those with vulnerable immune systems, those who are suffering from Long COVID, and those working in healthcare.
In this episode, they visit one emergency room outside of Baltimore. Carol Ann Sperry, RN, MS, CEN, Director of UM BWMC Emergency Services and Emergency Management walks listeners through how emergency care has changed.
"I don't think that the world or the emergency department has equilibrated since 2020, and I think that we are still searching for a new normal," Sperry said.
Sperry reported that UM BWMC lost about 55% of their staff since 2020. Their current nurse vacancy rate is at 20%, closer to the national average.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by AMN Healthcare, only 15% of nurses plan to continue working as they are a year from now. Even Sperry has considered leaving herself, she said. "There certainly have been periods where I could not find that joy."
Several hospital staff members reported that the intensity of care patients need has increased, shifting in a way that Sperry calls traumatic.
When asked about onboarding new nurses during the pandemic, Sperry was honest about the challenges they faced and the challenges still ahead.
"We have to really continue to focus on [new nurses] and continue to tap into, what made you make that choice? And what else can we do to make sure that that's your choice tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day."