PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – Hospitals in Rhode Island have had to change their operating strategies as staff shortages continue as hospitalizations continue to rise. Frank Sims, president of United Nurses and Allied Professionals Rhode Island Hospitals Local 5098, issued a statement on the changes to accommodate patients.
The specific changes that Sims is addressing are as follows:
- Increase nurse-patient ratios
- Place intensive care unit (ICU) patients in non-traditional intensive care units and convert intermediate care units to intensive care units
- Combining the surgical intensive care unit and the trauma intensive care unit.
- Redeploy nurses and other health professionals from the cath lab, electrophysiology lab, main operating room, and outpatient surgery center to other parts of the hospital.
- Limit the amount of transfers from other hospitals.
Sims said, “The hospital had no choice but to make these changes. There are simply not enough staff to handle the number of patients arriving at the hospital. We want to be very clear on what these changes mean for the health and safety of all residents of Rhode Island. This means that our state’s healthcare system has reached a breaking point, forcing our largest hospital to take drastic action to try and meet the needs of Rhode Islanders in need of medical attention. This means that if you or a loved one has a medical emergency – whether or not related to COVID – there may or may not be a bed for you depending on the severity of the wave. This means longer waiting times. This means that nurses and other exhausted healthcare workers are taking care of you or your loved one. “
Sims continued, “Hospital workers in Rhode Island are going out of their way to help with this transition – but it’s running out for these frontline healthcare workers, who have now been in this pandemic for two years. Staff are stressed, overworked, exhausted and are now forced to accept more patients. At least a dozen nurses will be asked to shift from work days to work nights to accommodate these changes. And we have no idea how long it’s going to last.
“We call on the governor to immediately deploy the National Guard to help in any way possible. We’re also asking that the documentation requirements be changed to crisis-level documentation, allowing healthcare workers to spend more time caring for patients and less time doing paperwork. And finally, we support all efforts that will help retain healthcare workers in hospital, including the use of federal funds for retention bonuses or hiring bonuses, paid annually by management, which will keep healthcare workers employed in the hospital for years to come. “
Sims’ statement comes a day after ABC6 spoke to hospital staff asking for additional help and resources, which can be seen here.