Vanderbilt’s plea to retired nurses: Help us fight COVID-19

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are struggling in the fight against COVID-19 as positive numbers continue to skyrocket, leading to record-high numbers of COVID-related hospitalizations.

“The angst now is how are we going to take care of this many patients? Where are we going to put them? Who is going to take care of them?” asks Dr. Todd Rice, Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt.

He admits these are the questions that keep him up at night.

“Depending on how sick the patient is, the patient either has their own nurse or there are two patients per nurse,” explained Dr. Rice, “Those numbers start adding up really, really, really quickly.”

Dr. Rice said right now Vanderbilt averages 60 ICU nurses per day and Rice anticipates the need will grow as COVID-19 cases are expected to surge during the holidays.

“This Thanksgiving weekend, we were doing a lot of juggling and trying to pull people from different areas to try to make do because of all the patents that we had and a lack of nurses,” said Dr. Rice.

And now a plea to the public. Dr. Rice asks anyone with nursing experience, willing to work in the hospital, to reach out.

“We’ve started bring in some traveler nurses. We would take anyone who would want to come out of retirement to work for a while again. We cross train nurses from one specialty to another, or even people like some of the operating room nurses or the nurse anesthetist in the operating room have ICU experience,” said Rice.

Crucial planning for what may come two weeks from now when people who contracted COVID-19 during Thanksgiving will likely need medical help.

“We are trying to take measures to make sure we have nurses, and we have respiratory therapists, and have beds to take care of these patients,” said Dr. Rice.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

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