UAMS struggling amid pandemic while staff shortage at its peak

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Nurses at UAMS say they are feeling helpless, caring for more patients with a less-than-full staff. 

UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said Monday, the hospital is down 400 employees. 

Of those 100 are open positions and 300 are staff that is currently in quarantine. 

“It’s really at the breaking point of many of our staff members’ resiliency,” Dr. Patterson said. 

Dr. Patterson said staff numbers have never been this low even at the height of the pandemic and the shortage is forcing many nurses to work overtime. 

“What’s considered a normal work week would be three days a week and you see people working, seven or eight days in a row,” ECMO Director at UAMS Carmen Eaken said. 

Eaken says most days it’s a challenge to come into work with more and more patients and each day, fewer to care for them. 

Eaken says it’s not just the toll of time that’s put on staff having to pick up shifts, but the mental burden many bring home long after their shift. 

“We have to tell them that their son, their daughter, their husband passed away, and it’s awful and it’s happening every single day,” Eaken said. “You can only take so much.”  

Eaken says in some cases nurses have just quit because the burden is too much. 

Her and Dr. Patterson are now pleading with those who haven’t gotten the shot to consider it, to help slow the spread. 

Dr. Patterson says it’s not just a problem at UAMS but across the U.S. more hospitals are losing employees. 

CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock says it’s also experiencing a staff shortage but couldn’t give the station exact numbers. 

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