NW: Crisis In Healthcare Staffing

Newsweek headline: Our Health Care System Is Facing Massive Staffing Shortages. A Crisis Is Looming

ON 9/1/22 AT 8:00 AM EDT


As a registered nurse working in a Miami hospital for 10 years, including the last three on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, I know that my field is much more than an economic sector; it’s a core system to protect the well-being of our society.

Yet caregivers in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities here and across the nation face an unprecedented staffing and retention crisis that is placing us—as well as our patients and the entire care system—in danger.

Experienced caregivers who have risked their lives to save others during Covid-19 are leaving their jobs and communities because of low pay, disrespect and disregard for their well-being. Sometimes, they quit the job altogether, but often they are hired elsewhere in more worker-friendly places for better treatment and higher compensation.


The “corporatization” of healthcare has impacted the morale of doctors as well as nurses. I belong to a doctors’ online group and while many enjoy their profession and express satisfaction, there are increasing expressions of burnout and the desire to retire as early as possible.


My friend who is the top pharmacist in the Keys for a big chain (we’ve discussed its symbol here a half-dozen times or so)was just up here at the ranch hooking up his flats boat earlier this morning. He and his pretty girlfriend loaded two new paddle boards on the boat and are heading out to the backcountry.

He and I discussed his work situation: the competition and one hospital chain are offering him big bonuses (more than $50K) to come work for them. Except one of those places (the other big chainstore pharmacy) is a place he left years ago because it is worse run than the place he has landed.

Back during the vaccination/boosting days, he would handle 200 prescriptions in a day and give injections to an average 20 people who complained about “wait” time.

One guy. One or two assistants, one of whom walked out on him mid-shift because she couldn’t deal with all the Ken’s and Karens whining about the wait.

He makes top dollar now, but he told me this morning he’d rather be on his boat, running charters.

His girlfriend confirmed her five-star restaurant is suffering its slowest Labor Day since 2008.

So the two of them are a bit apprehensive of him taking a huge bonus to pay down some debt and then find out he’s expected to perform twice the work he’s already administering in a very busy store where sometimes the Pharmacist has to come from behind the counter to solve customer disputes of who came first. I keep telling him his chain needs to hire callused bouncers from Duval Street, pay them top dollar, and he won’t waste hours daily listening to drone of dissatisfied people who don’t understand there’s a great staff shortage in healthcare and it even affects drugstores. The abuse this fine fellow takes every day is beyond a bar person’s ken. I could never work corporate retail. Nor could any bar person who has 10 or more years of Bar Life under their bottle openers worn on a chain at hip-level. Bar people have antenna for trouble makers, and they would quickly nip those badly behaved life-suckers at the bud before they can flower into people eaters in a store. Maybe the chains should recruit bar people and put them through college to become pharmacists, nurses, managers?

There’s a guy who visits this board who is one of two of the finest barbacks I’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside. If I were to take this young man and drop him into one of these hectic pharmacies and tell him, “Okay, your only job is back me up in case of a fight, otherwise, just keep the backroom orderly and the shelves stocked,” and this guy would have this done within a month’s time after figuring out better logistics which these retail locations have yet to understand like a well-run bar’s barback - who is the engine in every well-run bar.

When a Pharmacist is also having to run into the backroom to pick through inventory or help at a register to take pressure off a taxed clerk, you know he doesn’t have enough help to free him to actually focus on filling prescriptions.

The nurses and doctors at the office I’ve been visiting for the past few weeks tell me that if I know anyone up North wanting to relocate, now’s the time to come work in healthcare in the Florid Keys. But then you have to explain beforehand that rents down here are 3-4x above the mainland. And because of staffing shortages, you’ll be working loads of overtime and having to stay close to your phone in case someone is a no-show.

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Some medical clinics could use the bouncers, keen bar folks you describe. Covid times made a lot of people angry, impatient, and inappropriate and the number of threats I’ve heard about against medical personnel has increased. And often administration turns a deaf ear to requests for better security measures. Service probably could in some cases be better, but again, administration wants to squeeze as much out of each employee as possible. And that means short visit times, no slack in the schedule for add-ons and
God forbid you get held up for 20 minutes three times in a row by the insurance companies requiring Prior Authorisations for a medicine the patent has done well on for years. Many parts of the system are broken.