An Arkansas hospital is so desperate to fill open positions it is offering signing bonuses of up to $25,000.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, has 360 health care vacancies, with 230 specifically being for nurses, reported CNN.
As COVID-19 begins to ramp up again in the southeastern state with cases increasing by almost 900 percent through the latter half of July, the hospital – and its staff – are now overwhelmed.
Morale among the health care workers is low, and some are even walking out on the job due to intense pressure.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock (pictured) is offering new hires signing bonuses of up to $25,000 amid a COVID surge in Arkansas
‘Teams are stretched thin. People are frustrated. People are very tired,’ Dr Cam Patterson, UAMS chancellor, told CNN.
‘We are down a significant number of positions here, because we just don’t have enough nurses that we can recruit to come here and help us to take care of patients.’
Working in a hospital for the past 17 months has been tough on health care workers.
Swells of cases creates a huge workload for everyone in the facility.
Physicians are also seeing a lot of death, and due to pandemic restrictions, nurses often have to comfort patients in their final moments in lieu of their families.
This can take a toll on a persons mental health.
‘I’ve had moments where I’ve sat in my car and cried before I came to work, before I came in,’ Takela Gardner, a nurse at UAMS, told CNN.
‘I’ve.. literally just sat there and cried because I didn’t know what I was coming into.’
Arkansas’s COVID-19 situation took off in mid-July, with the state suffering one of the worst summer outbreaks in the country.
Cases increased nearly ten-fold, from around 200 cases per day in mid-July to almost 2,000 on August 1.
The state seems to be on the right side of the surge, with cases now falling once again, down to 1,627 per day on August 5, according to Johns Hopkins University.
COVID cases increased 10-fold in Arkansas last month as the state suffered one of the nation’s largest outbreaks
The situation is still dire, though. The state reported on Thursday that it was left with only 25 available ICU beds.
‘There’s times when we get into the ER and there’s just not a bed, so we’ll just have to hold the patient on our bed against the wall, waiting on something to clear up so that they can get them off,’ Greg Thompson, executive director for Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services, told CNN.
‘Normally we should be able to get out of the hospital in less than 30 minutes. But sometimes we’re seeing some extremes of an hour to three hours.’
Arkansas is also one of 14 states with less that half of the population having received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine – with only 48 percent having gotten a shot – though vaccine in-take in the state has increased since the July surge.
Employees at UAMS told CNN that a majority of the patients they are seeing are unvaccinated, and it is frustrating.
‘It does become infuriating. I don’t know if I can necessarily be angry at the patient themselves, or to the general public,’ said Dr. Marc Phan, a UAMS emergency room physician, to CNN.
‘I think we just need to not necessarily ignore that side of it, but embrace them, try to bring them in, and try to tell them the importance of the vaccine and how it can change their life.’
In April, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a law that prohibited mask mandates in the state.
He admitted earlier this week that he regrets signing the law amid the states Covid situation.
Hutchinson has even called for a special legislative session to amend the law and bring masks back to the state.