Hospitals urge patients to show compassion to workers amid staffing shortages

Hospitals and health systems across the U.S. are asking patients to show kindness and patience to staff on the front lines of the latest COVID-19 surge.

In a letter sent to patients, which was shared with ABC affiliate KGTV, San Diego-based Scripps Health noted the exhaustion of employees as well as reports of abuse against staff.

"Healthcare workers are exhausted, and they need your support. So please, when you do access care, be kind. Be patient. Be understanding. Our doctors and staff need it right now more than ever," the letter said.

The letter also said "healthcare workers were regarded as heroes" at the beginning of the pandemic, but "now, we are hearing from our staff members that they are sometimes being met with demeaning comments and verbal abuse from patients."

In December, Scripps Health reported a 17 percent jump in workplace violence incidents reported by staff.

"These doctors, nurses and others have been fighting this virus for almost two years. They’ve seen it kill hundreds of the patients they care for. They are doing their best to carry on under the continued mental and physical strain being placed on them," the Scripps Health letter said. "And they are doing so as we, along with health systems throughout the United States, are facing a staffing shortage — due in part to the omicron variant as well as those who have burned out and are no longer able to continue their work in healthcare."

Saint Alphonsus, a four-hospital health system based in Boise, Idaho, is pleading for kindness to staff, too.

The health system posted a sign, which was shared in a Twitter post Jan. 9, calling on patients to "take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space."

"You matter. Your words matter. Your behaviors matter. Our patients and our teams matter," the sign said. "Take a slow, deep breath and make sure your energy is in check before entering."

Cleveland Clinic is issuing a "partnership pledge" upon arrival that provides visitors with various safety precautions, including not visiting if they are sick or someone in their home is sick, and wearing a mask, NBC affiliate WKYC reported Jan. 11.

The pledge, among other things, also calls on visitors to "Please be respectful of our caregivers. Do not raise your voice or use profanity. We are all on the same team."

"By entering the hospital, visitors agree to these items, which will help us maintain safe, high-quality care for our patients," hospital officials told WKYC. "Unfortunately, those who do not adhere may lose visitation privileges."

Additionally, in a submitted article shared in the McCook Gazette, leaders at Community Hospital in McCook, Neb., asked the public to be patient with healthcare workers.

"The healthcare system is at a crisis," Troy Bruntz, hospital president and CEO, said in the article. "At one point, we were the heroes. Now we are really struggling and worn out and don't know if the public really knows or understands."

Healthcare workers are experiencing especially challenging times amid the latest surge. Some hospitals have had to permanently or temporarily halt services to deal with staffing issues. 

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