Nurses’ association says new program won’t help with current shortage crisis

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – There is new information on the new program aimed at training more nurses in the Mountain State, causing the state’s largest nursing group to weigh in.

The West Virginia Nurses Association says they think expanding education is great and needed. But they also say the program that was announced yesterday by Governor Jim Justice won’t do anything to solve the current crisis of understaffed hospitals.

“The three big things are that we tried to get CARES Act money, we could not get it. We were not asked to have any input at all on what we could do with the money, and now they’re saying that they’re working with the WVNA when we were not consulted in any way,” said Joyce Wilson, the President of WVNA.

Wilson says their organization previously asked for $200,000 to help pay nurses for time off when they contract COVID-19 and are out of sick time but were told funds we’re already allocated. She says the announcement of $48 million to expand education is great, but its not helping nurses already on the front lines.

“But that’s not going to help the situation right now. So we felt like we should’ve been asked and we also felt hurt that we had asked for CARES money to help nurses on the front line and we couldn’t get it,” added Wilson.

Meanwhile, The West Virginia Hospital Association says the funds are critical for getting well-qualified nurses into the profession.

“Opening opportunities for new students, scholarship programs, faculty, these are all great things that really attract more people to the profession,” said Jim Kaufman, the organization’s President and CEO.

Kaufman also stressed how short-staffed hospitals are not only here in the Mountain State, but the country.

“There is one temp agency that we’re aware of that they reported back in October that they had 45,000 vacant nursing positions nationwide. To put it in context the entire hospital workforce in West Virginia is 49,000. So it really shows you the shortage we have out there for healthcare professionals.”

One thing most everyone can agree on, healthcare workers are tired and need help.

“Thank everyone that you know that works in a hospital because everyone the nurses the doctors, the raspatory therapists, the cafeteria staff, they’re exhausted mentally physically and emotionally.”

Jim Kaufman, West Virginia Hospital Association President and CEO

“We’ll figure it out together and we’ll move forward but in the meantime, we hope that we can get some answers of how we can put some money towards keeping nurses, right now at the bedside and supporting them,” added Wilson.

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