Health care faces ‘perfect storm’ in PatchI can see it in her eyes and in her body language. She scoops up the kids in an effort to move beyond the demands of the day and I look closer at her.
By: By Kevin Baisch, The Jamestown Sun
Posted June 14, 2012
I can see it in her eyes and in her body language. She scoops up the kids in an effort to move beyond the demands of the day and I look closer at her.
“How was your day?” I ask.
“We lost a couple more nurses in the clinic today,” my wife said, “and two in the O.R.”
The stress and weariness in her voice confirm my suspicions. It’s not been the best of days for her.
“I just don’t know what they are going to do over there.” she continues. “How can they even recruit new staff when there is no housing?”
“Oh man.” I reply. “That’s not good at all. What’s going on?”
“It’s a lot of different things” she says. “There has been some unhappiness for quite awhile over there, but things are just coming to a head.”
She goes on to explain the situation. It is indeed a “perfect storm” if you will and it’s hitting at the worst possible time for the community. A combination of stress on wage levels for health professionals, an increase in workload, patients, and hourly demands and a decrease in the number of physicians.
Her concerns are the communities concerns … even if the community does not realize it. The gravity of the situation is apparent to those who work in the healthcare facilities in the community, but not to those who come through the doors for care. In the community’s eyes, they only see a long wait time to be seen, or even to obtain an appointment in the first place.
If you visit with those in the field you will see a deeper and more serious problem. One that is accelerating and frightening. As housing is priced out of reach for even professionals in the community those that leave will not be replaced easily. Shorter staff levels only ratchet up the stress level of those who remain. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians, as well as environmental services personnel are stretched thin….and getting thinner. I am fearful that the quality of care in the community will suffer.
Indeed, it may already be compromised to some degree by the short staffing. The local facilities have provided quality healthcare for many years. Mercy Medical Center and Craven Hagan Clinic have been pivotal in providing health care for this community for decades and Trinity Health has also stepped up to the plate. Both facilities are building new facilities or additions to the existing facilities. Many in this area have opened their homes, my wife and I included, to take in those professionals who are willing to come to Williston but have not found the housing required to settle properly. They patiently wait for housing to catch up, or to come down a bit in price.
I am thankful for those healthcare professionals who come, and who are patient. Their patience is a heavy price for them to pay, but one that I thank God for often, for when the time comes that I or my family need medical attention I want to be assured that the emergency room will be staffed and that the doctors and nurses will be rested, alert, fully focused and ready to help my child, my wife, or myself. If that is not the case I fear the price that will be paid will be by a loved one — of my family, or yours.
Baisch lives in Williston, N.D., with his wife and their three daughters and is one of several bloggers writing about life in the Oil Patch at patchlife.areavoices.com