'They're scared': Demand for Georgia ICU nurses triples in 1 week

Facilities across Georgia are struggling to hire enough intensive care unit nurses as flu season and a winter COVID-19 season approaches, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Demand for ICU nurses in Georgia more than tripled during the first week of November compared to the week prior, according to NurseFly, a temporary healthcare staffing website. Demand in October was already high — 373 percent greater than October 2019, according to NurseFly.

"The demand is just greater than the supply," said Laura Brower, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer at Augusta (Ga.) University.

Augusta University Health is seeking 250 nurses, partly to staff an ICU it converted into a COVID-19 ICU, employment ads show. Elbert (Ga.) Memorial Hospital has asked the state government for nurses.

"I'm hearing of a lot of nurses coming out of the system because they're scared," said Dana Horton, RN, a radiology nurse at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and the local union director for National Nurses United. "For their own health, for their family's health."

Earlier in the pandemic, when some hospitals experienced nursing shortages, other hospitals were furloughing staff, bolstering the amount of nurses able to help in hot spots. Now, with the virus widespread across the U.S., hospitals are competing for a shrinking pool of nurses.

"We're already struggling to find staff," said Kerry Trapnell, CEO of Elbert Memorial. "There's definitely reason to believe that the patient load's going to be worse this time. I wish I knew. That's the fear."

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