RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Nurses across North Carolina are feeling even more burned out because of the latest surge in COVID-19 cases and a shortage of coworkers, survey results show.
The North Carolina Nurses Association surveyed nearly 500 of its members between Aug. 23-29 to gauge the toll the pandemic is taking on them.
“These results confirm what we know has been brewing for quite a while,” Tina C. Gordon, the CEO of the nurses association, said. “I’m really concerned about nurses out there right now, and I’m even more concerned about the long-term impact this will have on individuals and the profession. Please listen to nurses and do what you can to reduce their heavy load.”
The rapid spread of the delta variant has sent new case numbers and the count of patients hospitalized and in intensive care units skyrocketing. The average number of new cases across the state on the final day of the survey more than triple what it was just one month earlier.
The number of patients hospitalized on Aug. 29 was fewer than 500 shy of what it was at the peak in mid-January.
Those results back up what others in the profession have said lately about burnout and fatigue.
The survey found nearly 1-in-7 of the nurses said they were close to leaving the profession due to burnout.
Furthermore, a question asked nurses to evaluate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much COVID-19 has impacted them and their patients the previous 10 days.
Yielded an average answer of 7.7.
More than 80 percent said that the impact is higher than it was three months earlier.
More than 3-in-4 nurses surveyed said their facility is dealing with either a severe or moderate staff shortage, with nearly 60 percent saying they are working longer hours or shifts, or have taken on different assignments due to those shortages.
Staff shortages related to the pandemic led to the delay of the opening of the UNC Rex hospital in Holly Springs.
“Everyone turns to nurses when they need help, but the truth is we desperately need help right now, too,” NCNA President Dennis A. Taylor said. “This survey confirms that what I’m seeing on the front lines is consistent across the state. I hope it serves as a flashing warning light to patients, policymakers, and healthcare leaders that the status quo cannot last much longer.”
Finally, the survey also found 89 percent of responding nurses said they have been vaccinated.