BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — On the frontline of the pandemic, ICU nurses have been up close and personal with every curveball the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown at them. With new waivers threatening to increase the nurse-to-patient ratio, one Bakersfield nurse says the toll is becoming too much.
"We’re a year into this. We should have had control over this, we knew that a surge was coming," said Sandy Reding, a nurse with Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and President of the California Nurses Association.
She said that across the state, nurses are seeing more and more patients. She said the workload is not only physically demanding but takes a mental and emotional toll.
"If they’re that critical, somebody’s going to die, and that takes a toll on the nurse too. There’s moral injury," she said. "Trying to get to everybody and not being able to save everybody time after time."
In December, the Department of Public Health began granting expedited waivers to hospitals to increase the number of patients ICU nurses can treat at one time. But to Reding, these waivers are just a way for hospitals to save money by increasing the workload of their nurses.
In December, Carmela Coyle, President & CEO, California Hospital Association released a statement saying accusations like this are false and irresponsible.
"In times like these, California's health care providers need, without exaggeration, every hand on deck to save people's lives."
Reding said between waivers increasing the number of patients a nurse has in their care and elective surgeries increasing the number of patients in ICU beds, the combination is a disaster waiting to happen. She said the waivers violate safe staffing standards that will cause more suffering and death for patients and healthcare workers.
“Oftentimes the nurses try to help one another, but if you have too many patients, you can only do so much. It really makes it difficult on the nurse to get to the patient in time to take care of their needs,” she said.