UCLA MEDICAL CENTER: Nurses Say Shortage Is Dangerous
WCBS-Los Angeles' Manuel Gallegos took a look at University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center, where nurses say they are "coping with an alarming shortage of nurses in emergency rooms and critical care areas" which "puts patients at risk." "Everybody's being stretched to the limit," said RN Patty Sheenan. However, "The hospital denies they're understaffed," reported Gallegos. "I'm not aware of a single situation at UCLA" where patients have "either been in danger or not gotten the quality of care they think they need," said UCLA Medical Center's Heidi Crooks. "Recognizing they may have gone too far" in downsizing to compete with managed care, "many hospitals are now aggressively seeking experienced nurses, even offering signing bonuses."
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While California has 259,000 registered nurses, mostly women, Gallegos reported "they're getting older -- average age is 44." In addition, hospitals are also "losing skilled nurses to growing health care opportunities in the community." Sheenan asked, "Why should you being continually stressed for 12 hours, not get breaks frequently, when you can work somewhere else and get a similar wage." Managed care competition has also forced hospitals to cut "nurse staffing and in- house training programs" while "nurses are replaced with less-experienced, unlicensed personnel," reported Gallegos (2/22).