Idaho Healthcare Shortage Revealed
Several Idahoans have reached out to us, inquiring why there seems to be a long wait for medical treatment in the Treasure Valley. We've heard allegations that there is a worker shortage. Hospitals such as Saint Luke's, Saint Alphonsus, and Primary Care could lose up to 16,000 workers because of their vaccination mandate.
Is there a healthcare worker shortage going on right now before the deadlines imposed by the three healthcare providers? We've reported on doctors, nurses, and other workers in the health field who've left their jobs because of the vaccination mandate.
We asked the people currently working at hospitals and other medical facilities to let us know what is happening inside these facilities. They've provided the following insight into their daily challenges of caring for Idaho patients. You will want to read their first-hand accounts of life in the Treasure Valley Medical Community. Here are their stories:
Many have already discussed the numerous failed bonus opportunities that SLHS has deployed trying to salvage their staffing shortages. There are many faults with the proposed bonuses but what I hear from staff all over the health system is they are tired. They are exhausted- emotionally and physically. Financial bonuses got the health system through the first year of the pandemic; but falls short in today's market. This week St Luke's Boise has been on external bypass in all adult areas. They would like the public to assume this is from patients, it is not. While we are experiencing a surge in patients it would be manageable with appropriate staffing- which we do not have because of people choosing to leave for many reasons and burnout. New ways SLHS plans to manage the employee crisis have been discussed including hiring nursing students and assigning them to a nurse allowing them to take a full patient assignment. Also, adjusting the timeline for requirement for a nurse to obtain a BSN from their ADN. Not normally a big deal however, SLHS has been offloading ADNs to maintain their magnet status which gives them higher reimbursement rates. Had we kept them we would be in less dire straits.
Lastly, from many you hear some form of the statements below; multiple times a day:
I am worried for hospital staffing and our team
I am mad and going through the grieving process for all our nurses and liberties lost
I am at a loss when my nurses come to me in tears saying they are exhausted and can't do it anymore. I don't know how to help the decisions being made are above me
I have heard more people today than any other day tell me how overwhelmed they are
I feel guilt for all my coworkers that I can't do more.
For me I am worried that the situation is dangerous now. I am absolutely petrified when the downstream effects of the mandate come to fruition and my family, friends, and community need to seek care and we are in crisis standards of care not because of patient surge but because of workers lost.
There certainly are shortages in my units due to people already leaving because of the mandates. There are more who are about to start being terminated due to Luke's suddenly getting very particular about their wording on religious exceptions. Of course, most concerningly are the vaccinated nurses/medical staff going down both to COVID and the many who are going down with new onset disease processes that are well described in VAERS (DVT's, continuous swelling, or simply dropping down dead). If leaders don't get this figured out, do not get sick in the next five years…
I work at Life Flight Network at St Alphonsus in Boise and I am in a non-clinical position in the hospital. We continually are hiring for Flight Nurses and Flight Paramedics, but this mandate will certainly affect the clinical staff we have. In our dispatch center, in St Alphonsus, we will have a shortage of staff once the mandate goes into effect.
I'm an RN at St Luke's. My unit has hired many travelers in the last several months, especially for Day Shift. So much so that our Manager is asking if any Night Shift nurses are willing to Temporarily or Permanently switch to DAYS so that Day shift doesn't have a majority of Travelers. A Travel Nurse I received report from last night said she's only worked Nights for 6 years, but Travelers were needed for Day Shift on my unit. None of my coworkers on my unit have left yet because of the mandate. But I'm expecting at least 1 to get fired. For myself, I'm looking to find a job elsewhere where there is no mandate.
I wanted to share with you what I am seeing on the medical/surgical floor in Nampa, ID. A couple of weeks ago St Lukes offered a $2500 bonus to those who would pick up 6 extra shifts. Many nurses took St Lukes up on their offer, including assistant nurse managers and administrative supervisors. We also have had our unit base educator picking up charge nurse shifts. So basically our leadership team and other RN's are picking up shifts to try and keep things afloat. This is making nurses more tired and burnout. I've heard it from some of my coworkers how tired and exhausting it is to pick up those extra shifts. Others opted out of this bonus program because they are already burnout. Our charge nurses on occasion are also having to take patients. Our staffing issue has lead to upticks in patient falls and safety concerns. Another issue on our floor is patients who are medically stable are not able to discharge to a long term care facility or subacute rehab in a timely manner. We have patients that have been using up a hospital bed for over a month because there is not enough staff at these types of facilities. This causes a gridlock because there's no patient flow. Thanks for allowing me to share the issues that I am witnessing.
I have been an] LPN for St. Luke's Home Health up to Saturday 08/21/2021. In the last 3 months we have lost 3 RNs, 1 PT, an office manager, 2 LPNs including myself, all CNA's except 1 which meant LPN's were drawing labs, doing supply runs, and other jobs usually done by CNAs. A couple of people left the Treasure Valley, 1 LPN is going to RN school, not sure what happened to all of our CNA's. As of 2 weeks ago, daily emails started from our Director of Home Health stating nursing and aides were in the red, yellow or green as far as staffing as MANY nurses were calling out all at once, and referrals were being denied due to the staffing shortage. Until I left CNA's stayed in the red, but nursing kept going from red to yellow back to red depending on the call outs. Reports like this are new as staff are unable to meet the referral needs which means many patients had to find Home Health at another agency.
To whom it may concern, I work as a physical therapist for St. Luke's Medical Center. I have been so surprised by the media's portrayal of the staffing shortages and capacity concerns. It's true that we have had more COVID-19 cases recently, but I still find empty beds throughout the hospital. We're definitely not treating patients in hallways and conference rooms as I read in an article today! The real problem is staffing though! Not only are we short staffed, but morale has been affected big time by mandates and just plain fatigue from this whole pandemic. It's really sad, and worst of all our PATIENTS are suffering. Let's get one thing straight...this is a public health issue and our goal should be to provide the BEST quality of care. We can't do that when we push existing staff to the brink of exhaustion, push out staff with mandates, and attempt to bring in travelers to fill the void temporarily. If this were really about patient centered care and safety, I think we would approach these topics differently. It's crucial that we address this now. Mandates will only cause our company to suffer, as will many around the country. Patients lose when this happens. There has to be a better way forward, and we need to be leading the charge. Thank you for what you do, PT, DPT
Hello- we were given an opportunity to work additional 72 hrs in The next two months for a $2500 bonus. I regularly work 10 hr days and everyday after our huddles we receive an email report stating our staffing level and it's regularly "at critical" levels.
Hi, I'm currently employed at Stukes Hospital in Meridian,ID. We are experiencing extreme staff shortages in my department, the Laboratory. I am currently a CLA Clinical Lab Assistant and have worked at St.Lukes for 10 years. Due to staffing shortages our outpatient Laboratory is now closing at 5pm rather than the normal 8pm close time. They are also offering an additional $7per hr for any of our staff that will pick up additional shifts. With all this happening I was still forced to resign as my medical exemption from my Primary Care Provider did not meet their criteria. Due to the mandate my last day with St.Lukes will be September 1st. They day we have to be vaccinated or get fired. I know of several other co-workers in my position who will be gone after the deadline and they already cannot provide the care they once did to the community Due to the staffing shortage.
I am a nurse at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, ID. Right now, while our organization is still claiming that covid vaccinations are voluntary, we are working to keep it that way. But the administration is making it very clear where they stand. They are harassing staff, closing opportunities to unvaccinated employees, and even having their physicians put out official statements claiming that covid is a disease of the unvaccinated. Let me be clear that as a professional nurse, I am not anti vax. I am pro choice. And many at our organization state they feel the same. We are already short staffed, with charge nurses taking patients, not enough unlicensed personnel, not enough housekeepers to clean rooms. Just today leadership announced that there will be a transition to a team nursing model. It is becoming very clear that when they mandate the shot, that the staffing crisis will become even greater. The community will suffer because of this staffing crisis. We need your help! We need to be able to decide for ourselves, without fear of losing our jobs, to take the vaccine or not!
At SL Meridian Lab, we already had a shortage of phlebotomists and processors before the vaccine mandate. Now it's even worse. We are so short handed that we've been forced to cut our outpatient phlebotomy hours short in the evenings due to not having enough coverage. Our normal hours are 7am-8pm. Right now we have to close at 5pm and are turning outpatients away and telling them they have to go somewhere else to have their labs drawn after 5. After 5:30pm there is only one phlebotomist to work the entire hospital (inpatient and outpatient). So many phlebotomists and processors are working extra shifts and there still isn't enough coverage. I work ar SL Meridian Lab as a clinical lab assistant.
I am a clinical staff member with a SAMG (St Als) clinic. We are a small clinic that is already barely functioning given current staffing concerns and shortages. I will be leaving due to the mandate and I am aware of two other staff members (1 clinical, 1 non clinical) that will also be leaving for the same reason. These 3 employees leaving will be enough to completely cripple the entire clinic. We are constantly being forced to reschedule or redirect our patients because we simply do not have the staff to accommodate their needs. Within the last month I personally, along with my colleagues, have had to call many many patients over a week after the provider has already responded to the original message and I find myself beginning my conversations with an apology for the delay in their care. This shortage is already causing extreme stress and burnout on current staff, which in turn is causing patient satisfaction and safety to suffer - and this will only get worse once they begin terminations. We, as medical professionals, never force medical procedures on patients, so why do we not get the same respect and understanding? For a "faith based" health system that preaches patient safety and satisfaction, they are putting a lot of patients' lives at risk for delays in care or even medical injury due to high levels of burn out. The time to stand up against this is now! Thank you for your time.
I work at St Luke's in IT onboarding and separating employee and contractor accounts. There is a major increase of contractors being boarded in the system every week approximately 15-20. Along with about 20 separations daily. New employees onboarding about 100-150 weekly with 5 to10% not fully unboarding due to mandate. Many quit within 60 days due to understaffing and stressful working conditions. Our staff to process these is 9 people for the whole system and we are struggling to keep up. Three of whom are facing termination for not complying. Meanwhile we all work from home 100% of the time. This mandate is going to hurt a lot in the next few weeks, more than they even realize. Travelers without access to work..... paid to sit and wait at a very high price. From Concerned employee, Idaho citizen and not informed enough to take your shot individual.
CNA at st als Garrity clinical in float pool. Media reporting lack of beds available for care to provide patients. But its lack of care by nurses and CNAs to be able to bed the patients. We have empty rooms but no one to service them because we don't have the staff available. Patients boarded in ED for up to 24 hours waiting on a room.
I am a clinical PA who works in surgery. Elective cases cannot be scheduled. We are told that they will review possible cases each day and then let us know if our case gets approved for that day. We will also be told where the case will be completed. There isn't staffing to open all of the surgical rooms. Some may not recognize this as a problem until they realize that most surgery is elective. Most cases are not urgent or emergent.
I work for St. Luke's in Meridian in an ambulatory clinic. I have worked my way from being a CNA float to all three hospitals in the area to being an MA in an outpatient clinic. Being in the float pool was always stressful! I was the one floating to the floors trying to help my fellow coworkers. We were always short leaving all of us scrambling trying to give our patients the best care that we could under the circumstance. There were so many times we were unable to even help give our patients basic help such as showering because we had no time. Almost on a daily basis staff were unable to even get lunches. Staff being assigned twelve plus patients at a time was normal and was expected that we give them all the cares that they needed. Working in 'chaos' was considered normal. Now on to being in a clinic. We are scheduled every day to fail. During our patients visit we try out best to hear their story, listen to their frustrations, comfort, and teach cares all in a minuscule amount of time. We constantly ask for more help but we are always denied and said there is no reason why we can not take care of our patient load. This is all about money. The more patients we see, the more money they get. This is not about quality but about quantity. This leads to us not taking care of the patient as a whole. This can and does lead to mistakes.
I am an RN at St. Luke's Meridian 6th floor AKA designated COVID unit and medical floor. I get text messages every shift of every day for help. Most shifts lately are so desperate that emergency pay + $250 bonus is offered for help. Tuesday, I got 4 different text messages for help 1900-0700. That night they were short 4 RNs on the ortho floor (MMC5), 2 RNs on MMC6, 2 RNs on 9E, and 1 RN at Nampa MS. I have the texts to prove it. The only days I don't get texts are on days I'm scheduled to work already. My floor is actively raking in travel nurses and even announced in July that they were planning to hire travelers for the expected shortage that would come from the mandate. My floor alone has lost 5 dayshift RNs in the last month with 4 more day shift nurses who have put in their notice (including me). I am a contractor and could get by with a simple declination form until my contract is complete, but I refuse to work for an organization that has taken part in such tyranny.
I am a non clinical RN but see all campuses in my position. Every department is scrambling due to not enough staff. Case managers can't get patient out of fast enough because there's not enough of them. Surgeries are being canceled because they don't have the staff to cover those areas. We get emails telling us that since we are non-clinical that they want us to make sure that we're up-to-date on our skills (ie POC testing) so that when we have to go help on the floors that will be ready. We get emails asking if we have any rental properties to make them available for travelers. Staff is burning out and I'm sure patients are already paying the price: My neighbor came up to me and said "oh I saw that St. Luke's is asking for volunteers to come in and help sit with patients. She's like that's scary!"
I have worked in the security industry at Saint Alphonsus for over five years. We have been short staffed for many years. If this mandate is not reversed it will put our patients, staff and visitors at an even greater risk that already exists. There's simply isn't enough officers to provide a reasonable amount of security coverage. This is very frustrating for the medical and security staff.Medical staff depends on Security staff for a variety of things including patient transports, combative patients and general disruptions throughout the hospital. I am very concerned for the overall safety of the patients, employees and visitors if this mandate isn't reversed. Respectfully, A highly trained Security Professional.
This is my written statement about the current shortage. I work at St. Alphonsus in a clinical position. Everyday we are short RN's, CNA's, and PSA's. I am getting 1-3 texts a day from either my unit or from staffing stating that they need help. There are days/nights that we can't admit anymore patients to our unit because of staffing, not because the unit is full. There are some days/nights that RN's must be flexed up to take more patients. During the day this can be 6 patients and 7 at night. During these times, the charge nurse must also take patients ( perhaps up to 3). This is not safe care. I also just found out that patients who are waiting for beds to open up on the inpatient units are "boarded" in the emergency room until a bed opens on the unit that they're assigned to go to. As a result of this, those patients needing emergency care won't be able to get it due to lack of beds. If the mandates stay in place and staff leave, this problem will get even worse. This affects us all as we are all consumers of the health care system.
Hi there. I work at St. Luke's in Meridian as a Patient Access Specialist. I register patients for their lab draws, imaging appointments, surgical procedures, and pre-surgical appointments. I work in 4 different departments and there has been a shortage in every department for over a year! We have lost over a dozen employees in just the last 3 months; most recently, 8 of them because of the mandate!
I work at Nampa Luke's ICU. We are a 10 bed ICU. We are severely understaffed most days. The charge nurse is now taking two patients d/t no staff. This is so dangerous but it is how it's been for the last month or so. They are looking for at least one nurse on days (sometimes two) NOCS is worse. They are offering Emergency pay plus bonuses to come work and still are unable to find people to come in. They tried a $2500 bonus program to sign up for 6 shifts. This was not successful in the ICU units across the system. We've had two RN's quit day shift in our unit which doesn't seem like a lot but it's huge for staffing in our small unit. We have several open positions on days and nights that are not being filled. Per our manager "there isn't been a lot of interest". It's gonna get worse. So far ratios are 2:1 but that will likely change if we can't get travelers or new staff we're being told. Al's is at 3:1 in their ICU we were told. I'm terrified to get to that point with these Covid patients. They are labor intensive and and I won't be able to live with myself if I hurt someone due to the storage of help. Mistakes will happen if we get to this point it's a matter of time. And if I feel unsafe for my patients- I too will leave ICU for my mental health.
Hello – Prior to the mandate, there already was a staff shortage. This year it has taken months to fill any position, clinical or clerical. I personally had an entry level position take 3 months to fill due to a lack of applicants. Additionally, family practice providers and urgent care providers are not adequately staffed. Working in a family practice/urgent care/pediatric facility, it would take months for a new patient appointment and follow up appointments for established patients were not scheduled timely. This is all due to provider shortage.