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Huntsville Hospital CEO discusses nursing shortage caused by coronavirus

The hospital is waiting for about 100 new nurses to start.

Posted: Aug 5, 2020 6:10 PM
Updated: Aug 5, 2020 8:10 PM

David Spillers, Huntsville Hospital CEO, said nurses at the hospital are starting to feel the stress caused by everything that comes with the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now, about 150 employees who work for the hospital system in Madison County are out with coronavirus or in quarantine waiting for test results.

Spillers told me staffing is now a major concern for Huntsville Hospital.

"Our nurses are tired. It's getting harder to get nurses to take extra shifts because this has been going on for a long time. We're asking a lot of our current staff to take extra shifts and we've had over 600 nurses take extra shifts," he said.

Spillers understands why it's growing harder to get nurses to pick up extra shifts.

"At some point people are like I just want to rest. I want to go home. I want to take a week off. And they deserve that and they need to do that," he said.

Spillers explained coronavirus patients take more time than the typical ICU patient. That means nurses see fewer patients, also adding to the demand.

"We're trying very hard to use our in-house, in-system staff as opposed to staffing from the outside. Many of our team don't believe that bringing in nurses from the outside on temporary basis is good for quality, and it's not fair to the nurses who work here all the time," he said.

They're trying to get creative to get more nurses on board.

"We're going to try to hire a large number of nurses, RNs and LPNs, by using signing bonuses and also some assistance to pay back student loans and things like that to increase our workforce not only under the anticipation that we will have COVID patients, but flu season is just around the corner," he said.

Spillers said the hospital has about 100 nurses who are about to start at the hospital.

This is the normal level of new hires in the summer, but the hospital is still looking to hire more nurses.

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