Overwhelmed Kansas City area hospitals relying on help from traveling nurses

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hospital staff are overwhelmed and healthcare workers say burnout is at an all time high at Kansas City metro hospitals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an extraordinary strain on hospital workers.

Most facilities are hurting for nurses as the Delta variant surges through the United States.

These are desperate times for the folks who work in health care. COVID-19 surges contributing to hospitals at capacity and stress unlike anything health care workers have experienced before and it’s hitting the Midwest hard.

“We see some of the nurses leaving the profession all together, which breaks my heart,” said Stephanie Wise, chief nursing officer at Advent Health in Shawnee. “So we are augmenting any way possible to provide relief and the appropriate staffing for our patients.”

Advent Health is one of many metro hospitals relying on help from traveling nurses to provide care to their patients.

“It’s kind of nice to be able to come in and help it’s still really stressful because these hospitals are extremely short,” said Christine Mullens, a traveling nurse.

Mullens was a staff nurse at hospital in Atlanta until the COVID-19 surge hit her hometown of Springfield, Missouri.

A stint in Springfield led to placement in the intensive care unit at St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City. Working an extraordinary amount of hours, faced with a new kind of stress, so others can take a break.

“It’s hard for us to see right now all of our ICU patients that are vented aren’t vaccinated,” she said. “What’s it like to help somebody say goodbye to their loved one who’s dying? Well, I’ve done it four times this week.”

Those four patients from 40 to 80 years old.

“Pretty much you just do your best with the phone call and like let the physicians talk to them to and then you just go take five minutes and cry and then you come back to work,” Mullens said.

“We want to make sure that they have the resources to be properly taken care of both physically mentally and emotionally,” said Matthew Kersey with Next Move, Inc.

Next Move, Inc. provides mental health support for all of its clinicians and comic relief through social media posts to boost morale. There are often bidding wars between hospitals for their traveling nurses.

“The incentive plays a part but more so any of our clinicians request that may have not been granted before or starting to get granted more often just so they get that clinician to come there and work there at their facility,” Kersey said.

Next Move offers mental health resources for not only its staff but medical professionals anywhere.

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