Oklahoma Hospitals Experiencing Nursing Shortage Amid Pandemic


Monday, July 20th 2020, 5:28 pm
By: Erica Rankin


According to the Oklahoma Association of Nurses the state of Oklahoma has a ratio of 700 registered nurses per 100,000 people – which Jane Nelson with the Oklahoma Association of Nurses said is below the national average.

“This ranks us in the bottom of states in the number of RNs per 100,000 in the country,” said Jane Nelson, the chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Association of nurses.

Nelson noted at the beginning of the pandemic some nurses were furloughed when there was a stop in elective surgeries. But, now that those have started back up and the state is open, most of those nurses have been hired back.

“We are seeing an increased number of patients in the hospital we have to care for,” said Nelson.

But there is a need for more. SSM Heath St. Anthony has been facing some nursing shortage challenges, which they said they are tackling head on.

“We have cross trained some of our staff,” said Elain Richardson, SSM Health St. Anthony Chief Nursing Officer. “We have also brought in temporary people, some nurses and techs that work locally and they know that this is for the COVID-19 response.”

On top of that they are contracting nurses to come here and working overtime as well as paying staff bonuses to make sure their patients are cared for.

“It is a concern just because I know what the additional volumes could continue to be if the spread continues,” said Richardson. “But nurses have shown us time and time again they rise to the occasion so when we put out the call they come.”

OU Medical sent News 9 a statement saying in part:

“Our current staffing capacity includes existing ICU beds and beds in Phase 1 of our surge plan, which adds an additional 20 beds.”