State calling on anyone with health care background to help hospital staffing shortage

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In her weekly briefing Thursday, Gov. Gina Raimondo once again called on Rhode Islanders with a health care background to help with the ongoing staffing shortage in hospitals.

“What good is a bed if you don’t have adequate staffing?” Raimondo asked, rhetorically.

The state’s two field hospitals, in Providence and Cranston, opened this week. The governor said by the end of the week, there could be close to 100 patients admitted between both field hospitals, respectively.

“As of last night, there were seven patients at the Cranston site, and about 20 patients expected over the coming days,” Raimondo said Thursday. “There were 21 patients in Providence, with probably another 40 or 50 in the next coming days.”

The governor said she’s been in touch with those running the field hospitals and so far, they report “things are going very smoothly.”

Raimondo also reiterated the quality of the field hospitals is “about as good as it gets.”

“They are top notch field hospitals, with top notch professionals,” Raimondo said, adding “We took incredible care to establish them in that way, and I do want to give you some assurance, in case you or your loved one winds up in a field hospital.”

However, Raimondo noted the facilities are “only as good as the people who staff them,” noting the ongoing staffing shortage while extending a message to Rhode Islanders not following public health guidance.

The governor said while there are 900 extra beds between the two hospitals, the state does not have enough staff to “safely, comfortably” staff every bed, adding it is “absolutely vital” Rhode Island does not get to a point where they all have to be used.

“So the next time you think it’s fun or funny to have a party, break the rules, shave the rules, I ask you to think about what it would be like if your mom or your wife, or your husband or your best friend wound up in a field hospital that was improperly staffed,” Raimondo said. “Because that could happen to your loved one if we all don’t follow the pause and these rules.”

At the same time she urged Rhode Islanders to follow the rules, for the second time in the pandemic, she also called on anyone with a health care background to step up and help.

“The brutal reality is every state in America is struggling with staffing,” Raimondo said. “So, the fact is, cases are spiking everywhere, and so we don’t have the same access to out-of-state physicians and nurses as we did in the spring.”

The governor reported this week the R.I. Department of Health once again began issuing temporary licenses to retirees, visiting health care workers, and others completing training programs.

“If you’re hearing me, and if you’re a retired health care worker of any kind, or a health care worker who’s currently underemployed, maybe have some time to spare, or unemployed or working in a non-health care setting, I’m asking you to suit up, and help us out,” Raimondo said. “If you’re willing to work on the floors of our hospitals, or our nursing homes or our field hospitals, we need you.”

Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to visit SkillsForRI.com or the websites of Lifespan and Care New England.

Next Tuesday, SkillsRI is hosting a virtual hiring event for 250 health care positions available through Care New England’s field hospital in Cranston or at Kent Hospital in Warwick.

Skills for Rhode Island’s Future is partnering with Care New England to hold a virtual hiring event on 12/8.

Virtual interviews will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. where positions are open for:

  • Registered Nurses (RN)
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)
  • Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA)
  • Medical Assistants (MA)

Surge wages are being offered for some positions, according to Nina Pande, executive director for Skills RI. In particular demand are Certified Nursing Assistants at $23/hour and Medical Assistants at $20/hour.

Pande says recent or soon-to-be college graduates are particularly encouraged to apply.

“This could be your pathway into again, one of our stronger health care systems here in Rhode Island,” Pande said.

Additionally, Pande says per diem shift opportunities for retirees are being made available.

“In so many of our health care workers, it’s in their DNA to just want to roll up their sleeves and help out, and so we know that many are sitting saying, ‘How can I help?’ so we’re trying to create opportunities for anybody to reengage,” Pande said.

“And if you’re recently retired, and you’re seeing what’s going on and you’re feeling compelled, you have that call to action, that call of duty inside of you, we’re working and hopefully we’ll be rolling out next week the per diem opportunities for folks to be able to pick up a shift or two, to be a part of the recovery of the pandemic and really helping Rhode Islanders see their way through this,” she added.

Additionally, anyone looking to volunteer can look for opportunities at RIResponds.org.

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