Healthcare Worker Shortage Amongst Covid-19 Crisis

Over the course of the pandemic, the healthcare system has seen many waves of Covid-19 and its subsequent strains. Currently, with the Omicron variant, healthcare workers are being pushed to their limit. 

On average, there are approximately 172 new Covid-19 cases daily in Loudoun County and the numbers are projected to grow in the near future. Also increasing rapidly is the rate of healthcare workers infected with Covid, causing country-wide personnel problems. 

Amanda Palmieri, a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician at Purcellville Fire and Rescue says, “Staffing needs across the county have increased, which puts a strain on available resources.” 

  One of the biggest changes that healthcare workers have had to adapt to is the amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that must be worn when treating patients. This includes masks, gloves, gowns, eye wear, and respirators. As demand for these materials increase, hospitals suffer shortages, which puts extra stress on providers. 

Not only is there a shortage of employees, the nation is also facing a deficit of basic medical supplies like syringes, needles, tubing, catheters, etc. Additionally, the American Red Cross just announced a national blood shortage crisis which brings the impossible dilemma of how blood should be distributed among critical patients.  

Along with a lack of supplies, hospital workers have been facing an increasing number of  negative comments and disrespect over the course of the pandemic. Pediatric ER Nurse Danielle Bussler shares that while people are trying, healthcare workers need more than free pizzas when they’re dealing with difficult working conditions. She also urges others to believe medical officials regarding vaccines and other health information. “We’re trying to advocate for them, us, and for everybody to be happier and healthier, but it feels like we’re getting a lot of resistance, which is very frustrating,” says Bussler.  

As well, some jobs have changed or expanded since the start of the pandemic. Senior Program Manager at Valley Health Maria Kolenda says, “We’ve had to focus on our day to day efforts because if you think about just how busy all of the healthcare workers are, we have to really prioritize what they’re working on.” 

Bussler explains how education has become a more important part of her job during the pandemic, “We’re really having to do a lot of education with the public, patients and their families.” 

Healthcare professionals haven’t just added education to their rounds. “I feel like as a nurse you always wear many hats; you are a respiratory therapist, you are a waitress, you are a social worker, you are a nurse, you are so many different things,” says Bussler

Healthcare workers have been on the front lines for almost two years, and they have been the focus of both positive and negative comments. However, they continue to work tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of their patients.

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