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Employees: Staffing, bed shortages at St. Joseph’s Hospital turning into nightmare

‘You just feel defeated. Every day you have multiple people calling off because they are burnt out’
Some St. Joseph's employees said staffing and bed shortages, along with a record surge in COVID-19 cases, are turning into a nightmare.
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 7:40 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 8:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some employees at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson said staffing and bed shortages, along with a record surge in COVID-19 cases, are turning into a nightmare.

The numbers can become noise, but it adds up to a terrible scenario front-line workers are facing every day.

“For a long time, it was a really great place to work. We had staff, everybody had a good attitude, we were all working together as a team,” said an employee at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Several employees, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of getting fired, told KOLD that’s not the case anymore.

“Nurses quitting in droves. 14 in the emergency room and at least five in neuro,” one employee said. “When there are three nurses for an entire Level 1 trauma center, it is going to be difficult”

Employees said when a nurse leaves, they are not replaced.

“You just feel defeated. Every day you have multiple people calling off because they are burnt out,” one nurse said. “Or they are calling out because they have worked an extra shift.”

KOLD reached out to the Carondelet Health Network, which oversees St. Joseph’s. In a statement, the company confirmed there is a staffing shortage.

“Every protocol in our COVID response has been built around the safety of our patients and staff and in compliance with CDC guidelines,” the company said in a release sent to KOLD. “We have rigorous infection prevention protocols in place, and they are working.”

”It is not like we are full. There are a lot of empty beds. We do not have the staff to take care of those patients. So that is why they are waiting in the hallways for days,” a nurse said.

KOLD obtained video from inside the hospital that shows what nurses are sometimes forced to deal with.

“Patients are naked in the hallway without any cover-up,” an employee said. “Vomiting all over the place, I mean it is just really horrific to walk through the emergency room and see that occurring. I would 100% agree it totally seems like it is third world right now.”

The employees who agreed to speak with KOLD said they are trying their best to care for patients, but can only help so many people at one time.

“I can give you an example of the gentleman who urinated in his bed because when he asked for a urinal, the staff told him they are too busy and just to pee in his bed,” the employee said.

The employees said they have approached management but claimed they were brushed off. Or as one told us, taken advantage of.

“We do this job to help people,” the employee said. “We get into this profession because this is our calling, but we do not have the tools or the capacity to help people. It is a scary situation.”

Carondelet said the hospital is still open for the community.

“We are grateful to our team members for their steadfast commitment to be here to care for patients in need, and our hospitals remain prepared to care for our community,” the company said in an email.

A nurse’s union along, with staff from St. Joseph’s, will take part in the “National Action Day” Thursday morning. They are hoping something will be done about this staffing shortage.

The rally begins at 8:15 a.m. at St. Joseph’s.

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