Along came COVID, and no one was prepared. We had minimal PPE. We were told to put our N95 mask in a paper bag, use it on every patient, and use it for one full week. Normally the N95 mask would be disposed of after each patient room exit.
Health care staff was dying at the hands of COVID and lack of PPE. Over 115,000 health care workers died from COVID. Nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, technicians dying at the hands of COVID and lack of PPE.
Nurses especially started to leave the field to avoid infecting their family members. And as nurses exited from the scene, the demand for ICU, critical care, and ER nurses skyrocketed.
Patients were endangered for lack of care or concern, lack of pay, or tripling up ICU assignments. The patient’s lack of prudent, professional expertise was spiraling out of control. The ICU and ED nurses became an endangered species. The nursing field became overwhelmed. And we jumped ship to higher ground.
Throughout the country, travel nursing became the norm. Nurses in ED and ICU could easily make up to $9,000 per week, along with health insurance and retirement accounts, and housing.
And nurses fled. They said, “Why not”?
If I’m going to be abused, I might as well be paid for it.
With exponentially higher pay, this higher ground created a vacuum for those left behind. The nurse that stayed through allegiance, through dedication, through camaraderie, was now broken.
The “health care family was torn apart. Shredded apart. And what’s left behind are skeleton crews still at minimal pay. Maybe they’ll throw us a bone or two. Maybe an extra $5 to $15 per hour on occasion but not on a steady basis.
With this new nursing revolution, because upper management, as in CEOs, refuses to take care financially of those that chose to stay, our system has become broken. Without the dedication, the camaraderie of nurses, we are an empty shell.
We haven’t been compensated as much as travel nurses are paid. And I see CEOs refusing to step up and pay the little man who stayed with the health care institution, out of dedication, out of the need to be with their families, out of necessity.
I don’t begrudge the travel nurses. But I do begrudge the CEOs across the country that allowed our health care families to be torn apart and disallowed and disrespected.
How do you work making $35 per hour vs. a travel nurse making greater than $5,000 a week? Why did management think that’s OK?
You, the CEOs, successfully dismantled the health care team and refused to honor and compensate the ones left behind: the dedicated, the experienced.
You sold us for the shiny travel nurse that carries no commitment and bounces from one institution to the next, making bank.
I blame the management for not keeping up. I blame them for turning their backs on us. They turned a deaf ear to us. Dishonored commitment and dedication and compensated the nurse that held no loyalty.
This is a broken system that will inevitably affect the patients physically and mentally.
You have created and encouraged this disconnect.
Our health care team may never be the same again.
Debbie Moore-Black is a nurse who blogs at Do Not Resuscitate.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com