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The Country Faces a Mass Exodus of Healthcare Workers Due to COVID Burnout
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, as the world enters its third year of response to the COVID-19 pandemic, burnout in the global healthcare workforce continues to grow. In the US, a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases due to the media hyped Omicron variant of concern (VOC) has led to a record surge of individuals requiring medical attention across healthcare settings. In California, hospitals have canceled operations and other elective procedures and ambulances have experienced backlogs for patient delivery. Healthcare professionals warn that the continued high intensity of care, a limited amount of life-saving countermeasures, and a large number of staff out sick are creating a continuously stressful work environment.
Notably, the country has experienced a mass exodus of healthcare workers. In the Southern US, this trend has hit nonprofit safety-net hospitals particularly hard, reducing the capacity of necessary resources for many throughout the region. Earlier this year, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that US$103 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan will be committed to strengthening resilience and addressing burnout in the domestic healthcare workforce. However, STAT reports that another fund meant to support hospitals and clinics during the pandemic has run out of money, after the Biden administration quietly redirected nearly US$7 billion from the fund and used it to buy SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and therapeutics.
Workforce mental health issues are not exclusive to the US. Researchers in Canada analyzed anonymous data from 34,000 physicians working in Ontario. The analysis found a 27% increase in the number of doctors seeking care for burnout or substance misuse in the first year of the pandemic compared with the prior year. Burnout of nurses and other healthcare professionals is a universal issue and has led to wealthier countries recruiting healthcare workers from other less-wealthy countries. This phenomenon has intensified during the Omicron surge, raising many questions about the ethics of the practice.
Healthcare workers unwilling to comply with Vaccine Mandates may exacerbate the problem. “As a practical matter, this policy may result in exacerbating the severe workforce shortage problems that currently exist,” American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a Sept. 9 statement. While Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and a former White House health policy adviser, pointed to the limited workforce fallout among the summer’s early movers as an acceptable loss for workforce-wide coverage.“If you look at healthcare systems that have actually mandated this, they’ve retained over 99% of their workforce,” he said in support of the mandates during an August press event. “Their workforce does go along when the employer requires it.”
We guess it all depends on who the 1% is . A North Jersey nursecontends the antibodies from the infection should protect her for a few months, making a booster unnecessary. But after Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order earlier this month — requiringhealth care workers and everyone else working in “high-risk congregate settings” to be vaccinated and boosted while eliminating the weekly testing option — she may not have a choice. “I guess I have to cross that bridge when I get to it,” Weidermann said. “I don’t want to give up 32 years of seniority. I love where I am now. I love working in the recovery department. “Everyone needs to make a living, and nobody’s job should be in jeopardy over something that a politician is demanding.” NJ.com