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Nurses Care For Patients Under Intense Stress, Staffing Shortages & Another COVID Surge

Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters
Traveling nurses Candace Brim, left, and Janet Stovall, right, are based in North Carolina but have been traveling as a pair since the beginning of this year.

On this edition of Your Call, we're discussing the pandemic's toll on the nation's nurses. As hospitalizations continue to surge due to unvaccinated patients, hospitals say they are reaching a staffing shortage of nurses.

Many nurses are quitting or retiring early due to burnout and the trauma involved in caring for so many dying COVID patients. Nurses say morale continues to plummet as hospital administration and management prioritize the bottom line over proper nurse staffing and safe patient care.

Before the pandemic, nursing shortages were already common in most areas of California, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. What will it take to create a sustainable and supportive work environment where nurses can provide the best possible care for their patients?


Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, president of the California Nurses Association and nurse at Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center, where she’s worked since 1980

Lisa Hartmayer, a UCSF nurse practitioner with 19 years of nursing experience and co-chair of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Web Resources:

AP: US hospitals hit with nurse staffing crisis amid COVID

NPR: Small Changes May Help Exhausted Health Care Workers Combat Burnout

National Nurses United: National Nurses United sets the record straight on nurse staffing

National Nurses United: Deadly Shame -- Redressing the Devaluation of Registered Nurse Labor Through Pandemic Equity

Lea is a producer for Your Call on KALW Local Public Radio. She graduated from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in 2018.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.