Nurses at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Utica are planning a rally for Thursday, December 10th to speak out for patient care at MVHS.

The ongoing plea from front line medical workers, especially nurses, is that they are overworked and understaffed. There is no doubt that the drastic increase in COVID-19 cases is having a difficult impact on the hospital system.

One MVHS nurse that wishes to remain anonymous says,

Nurses and other frontline healthcare workers began warning the public about the danger of laying off, furloughing, and eliminating hundreds of direct care positions back in April in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Over the last 9 months healthcare workers at MVHS have dedicated themselves to the care and safety of the community members of the Mohawk Valley.  They’ve worked to the call of their duty and beyond, doubling their patient loads, taking on multiple new roles that were once filled by their team-members now gone, and bypassing opportunities for break or nourishment to ensure that their patients are safe, comfortable, and cared for.

MVHS Chief Physician Executive Dr. Kent Hall joined 'First News with Keeler in the Morning' Wednesday, as he does daily, and discussed the challenges they're facing in the midst of this Pandemic. He says, "I think it is reasonable to say we are focused on how we can make sure to fulfill our vocation and that is to take care of sick patients."

According to Dr. Hall, one of the immediate things the public can do to help front line nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians and other medical staff is to continue to help slow the spread by wearing masks and taking precautions with loved ones.

The anonymous nurse to whom WIBX spoke with went on to talk about the concern over PPE shortages as well. The nurse said, "Faced with bare bones staffing, inadequate PPE, and equipped with voices that have not be heard by the MVHS administration, healthcare workers are feeling the pressure rise even more with the second surge of COVID." Dr. Hall has maintained that they are following PPE usage guidelines set by the CDC and that they are not at a point where they are concerned about the PPE supply at MVHS.

When asked about the staff shortages Dr. Hall said it's not a financial issue, he claims it is nothing more than a shortage of available nurses and physicians. Central New York, the state and the nation are all in the same boat when it comes to shortages. Hall says, "there are other areas of the country that are recruiting our people here and trying to entice them to move there." He adds the system has tried raising rates and are actively recruiting, but it is not easy.

The rally to show support and speak out for patient care will take place on Thursday, December 10th at 11 a.m. outside of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Utica. Nurses at St. Elizabeth's will be speaking out against staffing conditions that they feel impede safe patient care and the lack of proper PPE for front line healthcare workers.

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