Jacksonville hospitals face nursing shortages

Several nurses told Action News Jax they’re exhausted, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

Hospitals have faced many challenges since the pandemic began in March 2020, and increasing staffing shortages is the latest.

Many nurses are leaving the medical industry and hospitals are scrambling to fill vacant positions.

Action News Jax spoke to several Jacksonville nurses who did not want to reveal their identity but told us they aren’t surprised by the sudden turnover. Florida hospitals are near a breaking point as COVID-19 patients fill ICUs while stretched-thin staff struggle to keep burnout at bay.

Nurses tell us that despite only having three shifts a week they are exhausted, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

“A lot of what’s been going on right now, we’ve been leaning into this for quite a while.”

“The job that we are doing right now as nurses at the bedside is extremely difficult.”

Action News Jax is hiding the identities of the nurses we spoke with to protect their jobs.

“They worked mandatory overtime, so they were holding those nurses they are even though they had a couple hundred of us on standby.”

Kristen Rary requested staffing number changes from hospitals across Jacksonville but was unable to get any information.

A nurse working on a Jacksonville COVID-19 unit told Rary she has worked impossible hours.

“Adding to the shortage of nurses there was one shift, you know, I had to work 17 hours without a break here recently.”

Those hours and the demand are leading many to leave the industry. Now hospitals are trying to do what they can to help.

“We are taking more patients than what would be considered ideal.”

Hospitals like Baptist Health have set up assistance rooms for nurses to check in. Many medical facilities are trying to hire more staff.

“We need them because our hospital is full. We are running at 100% capacity in our ICUs right now, " said Veterans Affairs Head Nurse Brenda Brinkley.

“We have a few vacancies that we need filled,” Brinkley added.

They are just hoping they can find nurses willing to put in the work.

“We love our jobs. We’re not burnt out from taking care of patients.”