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Home » Valentine's Day » Nurse says local hospitals are dangerously understaffed: “It’s not working. It’s not safe.”

Nurse says local hospitals are dangerously understaffed: “It’s not working. It’s not safe.”

A nurse at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Central New York says the pandemic-induced situation is getting more unsafe by the day. Not only is it unsafe for patients, but also for hospital staff, who are doing more with fewer helping hands.

A frontline nurse, who said healthcare facilities like the Syracuse hospital are under crisis, spoke with CNYCentral about the conditions.

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“It’s not working. It’s not safe,” she said. “It’s not our fault that the hospital is staffed the way it is and they continue to accept patients, but we are the ones with everything on the line.”

The issue? Hospitals like Upstate are accepting more patients than nursing staff can safely handle. The facility has reduced its number of beds by approximately 20%, and that’s largely due to 400 nursing positions being open.

Speaking to her own experience, the nurse said that the difference between ‘staffed’ and ‘safe’ are two very different things. Typically, a nurse will have the number of ‘beds’ they are responsible for capped at four. Right now, nurses say they are being assigned significantly more than that.

“I’m rationing care every single day and choosing who gets to see me for an appropriate amount of time and who doesn’t. How do you make that choice? These are people, these are kids,” she said, “Some of those children are supposed to be in ICU but the ICU is full, so they’re on regular floors but you’re forced to care for them in the regular assignment.”

There’s been a staffing problem in healthcare for years, though. Large hospitals had dozens, if not hundreds of positions open before the pandemic. Then the coronavirus pandemic happened and accelerated the staffing problems. Either because of long-term burnout or the more-recent measures like the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for healthcare workers.

Another issue? Large hospital systems say they are having trouble competing with lucrative travel nurse salaries, which puts a crunch of those who remain at hospitals like Upstate.

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