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Amarillo hospitals face challenges due to shortage of nurses in area

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The need for nurses in Texas is not going away.

According to data released by the Texas Department of State Health Services, by 2032 the shortage of registered nurses will grow to more than 57,000 and the biggest need for these type of nurses will be at the hospitals.

Although this has been a problem over the years, COVID-19 has brought more attention to it.

“Hospital nursing is even more challenging than other because of the 24/7 operations,” said Patti Thompson, chief of nursing at Northwest Texas Hospital. “As the COVID numbers went up, we had a lot of nurses that were offered more than $100 an hour to go take care of COVID patients outside of Amarillo so, we lost way over 100 nurses in a very short time frame.”

While the state did provide Northwest with around 200 nurses, those have now left the city and the local nurses that left to travel have not returned to work.

“ERs get overcrowded and patients are not being discharged as quickly as we would like,” said Thompson.

In a statement BSA Hospital said it has also experienced loss of nurses.

Holly Jeffreys, head of the nursing department at West Texas A&M University says that just as there is a shortage of nurses, there’s also a shortage of faculty.

“During the pandemic, when other places, you know, really recruited heavy and hard, they took some of our nurses and left us in a deficit,” said Jeffreys. “Which forced us to get people from outside areas.”

Factor contributing to the existing nurse shortage also include, the aging population reaching retirement age and the limited number of nurses getting into nursing school programs.

“It will only get worse as the baby boomers age,” said Thompson.

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