NewsLocal NewsCuyahoga County


Nursing shortage plagues Northeast Ohio hospitals; WGU Ohio trying to help with appreciation kits

Virus Outbreak
Posted at 7:08 AM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 07:08:51-05

WESTLAKE, Ohio — Hospitals across the U.S. and Northeast Ohio are dealing with a nursing shortage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects we'll need another 1.11 million nurses by 2022 to help our healthcare systems stay afloat. Moreover, many nurses are nearing retirement age. The agency reports 18% quit their jobs during the pandemic due to burnout and nursing school enrollment just isn't growing fast enough.

In Ohio, there are nearly 9,000 open positions for registered nurses, according to the state Office of Workforce Transformation.

Kristine Coleman knows firsthand the weight so many in her industry are carrying.

“It's been super busy,” she said.

Coleman is a labor delivery nurse at St. John Westshore Hospital. She also juggles classes for a master's program at Western Governors University (WGU) Ohio while teaching new nursing students.

“Days that I'm off in the middle of the night, I can log in at two o'clock in the morning and work on my projects and study,” she explained.

The heavy load coupled with hours, Coleman and her peers are facing is partly brought on by nationwide nursing shortages.

“You have to start thinking about the nursing shortage that has taken place the morale to a certain extent because they've had to deal with a lot,” said Dr. K.L. Allen, a WGU Ohio Chancellor.

Allen says the shortage is an ongoing problem WGU Ohio is trying to tackle with kits of appreciation.

“Overall, we easily put over like 500 kits together and so we've just gotten these kits out all across the great state of Ohio.”

The kits include a handwritten thank you note and things like snacks, sleep masks, coffee and more. They also include up to $4,000 of scholarship money for those like Coleman who are currently enrolled in any WGU Ohio bachelor or masters program.

“We've received a great reaction because we all had such a great debt of gratitude to everyone that works in health care right now,” said Dr. Allen.

The token of appreciation has served as a way to encourage our healthcare heroes to stay, to continue helping save lives and further their careers for the past three years.

“It's nice to know that there is somebody out there extra just checking in on us,” said Coleman.