Local hospitals report nursing shortages in ICU; COVID making matters worse

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — New data shows Southern Nevada hospitals are dealing with more staffing shortages, especially when it comes to nurses in the ICU.

We are told Sunrise Hospital is one of nine local facilities dealing with a shortage of ICU nurses. It has been an ongoing problem for years, but experts say COVID has added to the burden.

“We definitely have a group of nurses who are very tired,” said Shari Chavez of the HCA Healthcare — Far West Division.

Nurses in intensive care units across the valley are stretched thin.

A new report from the Nevada Hospital Association shows staffing at Southern Nevada hospitals has been elevated to a “warning.”

Nine facilities in the area are reporting staffing shortages — particularly with ICU-trained personnel.

“We’re in a tough situation,” Chavez said.

Chavez is in charge of all nurses at three local hospitals: Sunrise, Southern Hills and Mountain View. She says all are in need of more ICU nurses, adding that the pandemic has led to higher turnover.

“The stress of being a healthcare provider, nurse or otherwise, through COVID. Now we’re 18 months in, it’s been… It’s taken a toll on our folks, both emotionally and physically,” Chavez said.

So, they are ramping up recruitment and retention efforts.

“We’re working to fill those gaps,” Chavez said. “We’re using things like overtime, specialty pay.”

What can also help is using residency programs to encourage those in local nursing colleges to join the workforce.

“We partner with all the different hospital systems in the valley, give the students a well-rounded experience and see what opportunities exist in Las Vegas upon their graduation,” said Dr. Brian Oxhorn, Dean of the College of Nursing at Roseman University of Health Sciences.

The ultimate goal is to have enough nurses to keep our community safe.

“It’s really hard, I think, to put into words how important that is,” Chavez said.

Republican Assemblywoman Dr. Robin Titus has also introduced a bill that she says will help retain nurses.

AB 142 would more easily allow nurses who came to Nevada to help during the pandemic, stay in the state to practice here.

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