Roper St. Francis responds to nurse shortage, hired 81 nurses since last month

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 1:22 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Roper St. Francis Healthcare is expanding their team of nurses after experiencing a shortage.

According to hospital officials, there has been an ongoing nurse shortage at Roper St. Francis since before the pandemic. In response to this, Roper St. Francis set out to rapid hire 88 nurses last month.

On Monday, officials said they have hired 81 nurses. That is 92 percent of their original goal.

Marissa Jamarik, the Vice President of Nursing at Roper, said they began working with contracting resources once COVID-19 numbers started going up, as they knew they would need additional beds.

Jamarik said these new hires are travel nurses from all over the country. Many of them have been working in COVID-19 hotspots and are brought in during surges. She said their time here can range from six to 12 weeks.

Roper has also hired over 80 respiratory therapists in the last month to supplement the amount of critical care patients, according to Jamarik. She said bringing on these new employees will give the hospitals the ability to open more areas to free up space in the emergency rooms.

She said the current staff will also benefit from the influx of hires.

“It was really important that the leadership team, I’ve been so impressed, is really committed to making sure the frontline is working at ratios that are safe. Especially in COVID units because of the PPE burden. They have to put on a lot of PPE,”Jamarik explained.

As for MUSC, on Monday, officials said they had 333 open nurse positions. They said they have 289 RN’s going through orientation, plus 81 travelers with more on the way.

According to MUSC, their RN turnover rate was just over 16% in 2019-2020. On Monday, that number was 24.6%. Hospital officials at MUSC said many nurses are leaving for places with higher salaries.

Earlier this month, Happy Everett, the Chief Nursing Officer at the Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital, said nurses have a lot of choices these days. She said that has factored into the shortage.

“Now they go into IT professions or get advanced degrees. Or go to clinics,” Everett explained.

She also said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on even more challenges for nurses, as it has put a strain on the resources.

“We’ve been doing this for 18-24 months now. So, we have dealt with nurses that may have been close to retirement that have decided to retire. Or, just like with all healthcare professions, just dealing with burnout,” Everett said.

Hospital officials continue to encourage people to wear masks and get vaccinated.

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