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Nurses at Osceola Regional Medical Center call on HCA to Address Staffing Shortage: "They Call us Heroes. But They Treat Us Like a Bunch of Zeroes"

Photo: Danielle Prieur
Photo: Danielle Prieur

Nurses at Osceola Regional Medical Center called on employer HCA Healthcare to hire more nurses on Monday amidst a nationwide staffing shortage.

Outside Osceola Regional Medical Center today, nurses in scrubs and face masks held signs that read “quality care for all” and “understaffing delays care.” 

Adriana Cuazo is an ICU nurse who has worked on a COVID unit at the hospital the past year and a half. She says they’re so short staffed, they’ve had to recruit nurses from the PICU. 

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Photo: Adriana Cuazo; Danielle Prieur [/caption]

“You know, right now we are handling more acute people. Same on the floors. Nurses are having six patients a piece and it’s a really bad situation.”

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Elisabeth Mathieu is a nurse in the ER. She says she’s seen hundreds of her colleagues quit during the pandemic because of burnout.

Since last February, Mathieu says it's normal for her to work a twelve hour shift without any breaks.

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Photo: Elisabeth Mathieu; Danielle Prieur[/caption]

“I just got off work. And it’s been grueling. Meaning twelve hours non-stop. And I can tell you. I can certify. Non-stop with no break. Last night there was no break, no lunch, no rest. It's been bad. Terrible."

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Marissa Lee is a nurse in the labor and delivery unit. She was getting ready to retire when COVID hit. She says she couldn't leave her colleagues when they were so understaffed and so she stayed on.

She says she's worked on mothers and babies who have tested positive for COVID-19, without fresh PPE, without the necessary equipment to provide the best care.

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Photo: Marissa Lee; Danielle Prieur[/caption]

"For these couple hours, you are my daughter and I'm going to treat you like you were my daughter. And what I expect if you were laying in that bed. Why not? Tell me why I shouldn't? And I say, 'this is because I care.' I love my job. I love being a nurse. But maybe it's time for me to say no more."

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All three women are asking for HCA to do whatever they need to do to staff up from offering hiring bonuses to simply making sure there’s enough PPE and other equipment. 

HCA reported some 13.9 billion dollars in revenue during the first quarter of 2021.

In a statement, HCA Healthcare says while National Nurses United, “continues to attack hospitals across the country, HCA remains focused on the important job of protecting our colleagues, caring for our community, and providing high-quality, compassionate care for patients across our area.”

"It is our focus to keep our colleagues safe, and continue to recruit, train and promote our clinical teams, specifically the more than 1,100 nurses we employ at Osceola Regional Medical Center. Our frontline caregivers have shown unwavering commitment throughout the pandemic, and no one takes the health and safety of our caregivers more seriously than we do."

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.