RI hospital groups say staffing shortages, increased demand to blame for longer wait times

Health

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’ve had to wait hours in the emergency room or to see a doctor for in-house care, local hospitals say it’s because they’re experiencing delays due to the pandemic.

12 News reached out to Rhode Island’s two biggest hospital groups, Lifespan and Care New England, who both said they’ve had increased wait times for a variety of reasons.

According to Care New England, medical facilities nationwide are “struggling with an increased demand for services related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” including patients infected with the delta variant and those with behavioral health care needs.

“In addition, COVID protocols designed to keep patients and staff safe do impact hospitals throughout,” Kent Hospital President and COO Robert Haffey and Chief Nursing Officer Judy Thorpe said in a joint statement.

Haffey and Thorpe also said there are staffing problems.

“There is a national nursing shortage impacting virtually every hospital in the US,” they continued. “The aging workforce, the demands of caring for patients during a pandemic and the increased demand for staffing are all factors influencing availability of staff and wait times.”

Kathleen Hart, director of public relations for Lifespan, said the hospital group is facing the same challenges.

According to Hart, their facilities have seen increased wait times over the past five months because people are returning to emergency rooms at record levels.

“We are facing shortages of certain clinical staff, such as nurses,” Hart said. “These shortages have led to backups in the Emergency Department, particularly at our busiest times of patient arrival.”

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