Nursing Shortage, Made Worse By Pandemic, Persists Amid Third Wave Of COVID-19

Monday, July 19th 2021, 4:21 pm
By: Erica Rankin

The Oklahoma Nurses Association said there has been a long-standing nursing shortage in the state which was only made worse by COVID-19.

"We've certainly had some changes," said Elain Richardson, the Chief Nursing Officer of SSM Health Oklahoma. "We have had some new staff come in and some staff go other places or take retirement. That is normal, but we have seen more in the last year than we would typically."

Richardson said their staffing is under control right now, but they have been watching what’s happening in other states and northeast Oklahoma with the spread of COVID-19. 

“We are cautious. We are seeing the reports like everyone else of the numbers going up,” said Richardson. 

The Oklahoma Nurses Association said in a statement Monday the state has about 700 nurses per 100,000 residents, which is low. 

Richardson said they are constantly looking for nurses to join their team, offering incentives like flexible schedules and monetary incentives. 

To help them, Richardson said everyone should get the vaccine if they have the chance.