Like many other aspects of COVID-19, without proper perspective, statistics and claims can often lead to misleading information.
If you only read certain national news reports, even local, you would think COVID-19 has, at various times, caused hospitals and medical centers to almost be overrun with patients.
While there have been heavily stressed workers (nurses, doctors etc) it's not just because of COVID.
What's Been Lurking for A Number of Years in America?
It didn't begin in 2020, or even 2019. For a number of years, the U.S. has been facing a growing shortage of nurses, especially skilled experienced ones. According to a report from Rasmussen University online, the American Nurses Association estimates by 2022 there will be more nursing jobs available than any other career field.
Why? A variety of reasons. An ever-aging population (we're living longer), a generation of nurses are getting ready to retire (cyclical), and growing demands on the healthcare system. The Rasmussen report also indicates there are fewer educational options. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing says in 2019-2020 over 80K nursing applicants were turned away because of insufficient funding, lack of class space, clinical sites, and lack of instructors.
Because of these reasons, the growing shortage, we are seeing increased nurse-to-patient ratios. Fewer nurses to care for more patients.
There's also the factor of staffing and economics. Researchgate.com reports the subject of staffing vs. patient ratios has been studied for years. Health care providers have to balance having enough staff to care for patients, but not having too many as that would drive up costs.
It's commonly referred to as census. Both of my older sisters work in medicine, they're both nurses. Many times due to low census, or patient numbers, workers are sent home or not scheduled because of low numbers--especially in hospitals. When numbers rise, more workers.
With rising costs, providers are increasingly trying to make do with less. But when patient numbers do rise, as we have seen at times during the pandemic, it puts stress on the system.
Much of the stress comes from the Intensive Care Units. Click here to see how Benton County hospitals were faring the week of August 6th. 2021. Click here to see how Franklin County facilities were doing. Some facilities do have more ICU patients than others.
Certainly, many health care providers are feeling the crunch. But to blame it all on COVID and the pandemic is misleading. Again, read many of the current news reports and you would come to the conclusion hospitals and other facilities are nearly out of room. Check the links we provided for Benton and Franklin County and you can decide for yourself.
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