Nevada recruits nursing students for hospital staffing crisis

LAS VEGAS (AP) — As Nevada hospitals report a staffing “crisis” and health officials report the number of COVID-19 patients at pandemic highs, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak , put forward a program on Wednesday to recruit nursing students to help meet the demand for medical providers.

“The state continues to work with all of our partners to leverage existing resources and remove barriers so Nevadans in need can access care,” the governor, a Democrat, said on a day when health officials reported what Dr. John Hess, a University of Nevada School of Medicine associate professor, called “difficult times” with “incredibly high case numbers right now.”

Hess told a Washoe County Health District video news conference that he knew “several medical groups in the city were struggling to keep their doors open due to sick staff.”

“I know hospitals are struggling the same way (in the same way), as well as I think all community businesses,” Hess said during a Washoe County Health District video news conference with reporters. journalists. “The school district is grappling with this as well.”

Sisolak said up to 250 apprentice nurses could be recruited from approximately 900 students in accredited nursing programs statewide in a program the governor said would help them “maximize the skills they have learned. and gain hands-on opportunities on the ground while supporting the health system. »

In a statement, the governor also highlighted shippers inviting medically accredited state residents to volunteer for the existing Battle Born Medical Corps.

The Nevada Hospital Association extended its “crisis” declaration for a third straight week on Wednesday and noted that Clark County hospitals, including Las Vegas, have officially requested staffing assistance from Sisolak.

“COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Washoe and Clark counties,” the association said in a weekly report that an unknown number of hospital positions are vacant daily because employees call in sick or get sick. isolate after being in contact with someone who has COVID-19[FEMININE[FEMININE

Last week, the association said patient care was dependent on “overtime, shift nursing and other mitigating measures” which were “unsustainable”. He launched a campaign to tell people seeking coronavirus tests not to go to the emergency room.

Today in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County, hospital occupancy rates for COVID-19 and virus-uninfected patients reached 98%, the hospital association said. That put staffing levels at hospitals in Las Vegas and rural areas at “crisis” levels, meaning the facilities were “experiencing conditions that limit the ability to provide adequate patient care.”

“The current challenge is kind of a perfect storm of inadequate staffing levels and then increases in patients and percentages of COVID patients showing up in intensive care compared to … last year,” said Cassius Lockett, director of the surveillance and disease control at the Southern Nevada Health District in Las Vegas.

“We continue to see increases in the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as increases in demand for testing,” he told reporters.

Lockett said that although the delta variant is still identified in people seeking testing, more than 90% of test samples that undergo further sequence testing turn out to be the omicron variant.

Health experts say the omicron variant spreads more easily than other coronavirus strains and more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or previously infected with the virus. However, early studies show that omicron is less likely to cause severe disease than the delta variant, and vaccinations and boosters provide strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

The number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Clark County declined Wednesday after hitting a pandemic high on Tuesday, at 1,641, according to the health district.

One-day test positivity in the region declined “slightly”, Lockett said, from a record high of 43% on Jan. 9 to 38.3% on Wednesday.

He called expanded testing for the coronavirus a key mitigation method because people who test positive can stay home and reduce the risk of infecting others.

State health officials reported Wednesday that more than 1,800 people statewide have been hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The number of hospitalizations in the Las Vegas area was 1,627.


Associated Press writer Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.

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