Springfield Regional Medical Center nurses adjust to staff shortage, says operations director

In September, Dr Paul Buchanan – clinical director of Mercy Health: Springfield – told the News-Sun that the hospital had seen a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 patients over the past month, a higher demand for therapies by infusion to treat respiratory disease and a growing staff shortage, all combine to put pressure on the hospital.

But hospital nurses have adjusted to the many changes the pandemic has produced, Purtee said.

Purtee, who is also the director of nursing operations at Springfield Regional Medical Center, wore multiple hats for more than 17 years at Mercy Health. When not managing nurses, she helps care for patients in the facility’s intensive care unit, often caring for a patient who is recovering from COVID-19.

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As of Friday afternoon, a total of 18,606 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Clark County, with 604 total hospitalizations and 334 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Buchanan told the News-Sun that about 80% of hospitalizations seen nationwide are in unvaccinated people, a trend that is reflected locally.

Buchanan told the News-Sun that COVID-19 has caused personal pressure on medical staff at Springfield Regional Medical Center as some have had to quit their jobs due to catching the virus themselves after coming into contact with it. a patient.

In addition, non-COVID-19 patients requiring treatment have also been affected by the increase in COVID hospitalizations, said Buchanan, with Springfield Regional Medical Center having a “crowded” emergency room due to the influx of patients. showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Caring for a COVID patient is a task that requires some preparation, Purtee told News-Sun. Nurses wear head-to-toe personal protective equipment for their safety and that of their patients, wearing surgical gowns, gloves, goggles, N-95 masks or other face coverings, and even headwear.

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Nurses, too, have taken on new responsibilities during the pandemic.

COVID patients at Springfield Regional Medical Center are not allowed to receive visitors, but nurses are working with patients and families to set up digital communication so recovering patients can stay in touch with loved ones.

“At first we were given iPads,” Purtee said. “At first we didn’t know what to do with them, but now we use them all the time to make calls with families. “

Some COVID-19 patients, Purtee said, display more anxiety than others, with many at the start of the pandemic expressing fear after being infected with a virus that medical professionals knew little about. Relatives of COVID-19 patients have also expressed their concern, heightened in part by the fact that they cannot have face-to-face interactions with medical staff.

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“They had to trust the healthcare system, trusting us to take care of the patient as a whole,” Purtee said.

Purtee told the News-Sun that she and her team have received community support throughout the pandemic, and that the daily struggles of COVID-19 have brought her and her team closer together.

“Our sense of family has really grown since the first wave,” she said. “And we continue to provide excellent care to the community.


In numbers :

3: The typical number of patients that an ICU nurse at Springfield Regional Medical Center cares for during a shift

604: The total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Clark County since the start of the pandemic

80: The percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations among the unvaccinated


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