Staff shortages and work overload is taking a toll on long-term care nurses in Maine who have remained in their posts throughout the pandemic.
Continued loss of staff is the biggest fear for some of these clinicians, wrote Eric Russel in the Portland Press Herald. His report, which focuses on the long-term care nursing situation in one state, highlights a situation faced by many LTC nurses nationwide.
“We’re all doing things that are not our jobs,” one nurse and unit manager at a Portland-area long-term care facility told the news outlet. “We’re trying to make things work as best we can, but I do worry that the health of residents is being compromised.”
The nurse, Rich Gilbert, arrives early to do blood draws, which an agency used to handle. He helps to feed residents with dementia, a task usually covered by certified nursing assistants. And he stays late to help administer medication and to pick up tasks such as bringing laundry to be washed.
“I think it’s really important that we acknowledge the toll of the pandemic on caregivers,” Angela Westhoff, executive director of the Maine Health Care Association, an LTC advocacy organization, said. “I think by nature, these workers are selfless and giving of their time, but it has been both physically and emotionally draining,” she told the Herald.
“I wouldn’t put it all on the pandemic,” added John Orestis, president and CEO of North Country Associates, Maine’s largest LTC provider. “But it’s certainly more difficult now. It feels like we’re competing against ourselves.”
Another LTC medical director reported that many older Mainers are being sent home rather than to a post-acute care facility. “What that means is: People are staying in an unsafe environment longer. The burden on families increases, as does the risk for elder abuse or neglect,” he said.
The situation is “untenable,” wrote the Herald’s Russel. “Many homes are relying on temporary or traveling nurses and certified nursing assistants just to get by, but even that has limitations,” he wrote.
The full story can be found here.