Dear Governor Wolf,
Thank you for your leadership during these unprecedented and challenging times.
In her press conference on December 3, 2020, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine expressed “significant concern” that several counties were running out of ICU beds and that at least one-third of hospitals will experience staffing shortages in the next week. The Commonwealth also reported 11,000 new cases, by far the highest number of cases recorded to date.
The pandemic is on the verge of breaking the nursing workforce and, to a larger extent, the healthcare system at large. Nurses want the public to understand that they are doing everything they can to help their patients and families. But they are tired and sick.
“As an emergency department RN – and a still recovering coronavirus patient – I know the horrible effects it is having on the healthcare system,” shared a PSNA member and staff nurse. “My workplace is out of beds and vents. We are quickly running out of PPE. I’ve had to use the same N95 for over two weeks. On my Thanksgiving shift, I had to use the same gown because we didn’t have enough. Patients are waiting in the ED for days before getting a bed. Nurses are being asked to work in unsafe environments.”
To help ensure that the Commonwealth has beds, staff, and resources to care for the surge in patients, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA) urges the Governor and the Secretary of Health to:
• Ask hospitals to stop elective surgeries
• Request the Commonwealth conduct another environmental assessment of PPE
• Allow exhausted nursing staff to rest
Prior to the pandemic, the number of nurses leaving the workforce each year grew steadily from 40,000 in 2010 to nearly 80,000 in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has hastened the need to address this issue. Nurses continue to tirelessly and proudly serve on the front lines. However, it is time for Pennsylvania to do its part to support its nurses.
Tarik Khan, PSNA President
Betsy M. Snook, PSNA CEO