Breaking News
More () »

Staffing shortages reach unseen levels following spike in omicron cases

Here we highlight three different areas feeling that shortage here in the state and how it could affect you.

Staffing across different industries nationwide has been impacted to levels never seen before because of the omicron COVID-19 variant. 

The more contagious variant is sending some employees homesick, leaving others feeling burnt out.

Nurse practitioner Ashley Blackmon, who is the president of the United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Georgia (UAPRN), says the staffing levels have never been this low.

"We have equipment, we have beds, but we don't have staff," she said. "We have a lot of nurses that are not able to come to work because they have symptoms, and then they test positive."

The nurse shortage existed pre-pandemic, but got worse when COVID-19 hit our communities. But with the omicron wave falling during the holidays, the numbers are even more alarming.

“People were calling out saying that they tested positive, or they felt sick and were going to get tested," she said. "We'd have three nurses show up for floors that really needed seven or eight nurses.”

That means extra shifts for already burnt-out healthcare staff, and sometimes, even performing duties not in their job description.

"I have definitely been staying on the floor longer and removing IVs or changing dressings or doing things that are not necessarily part of my job description right now because the nurses don't have time to do it," she said. "Anecdotally, where I work, our hospital or hospitalized patients has increased over 400% that are positive. Our staffing is lower than ever."

Outside of the hospitals, it's a similar story.

MARTA tweeted on Monday that some train trips may be canceled due to staffing shortages. Bus routes are also being modified.

Credit: Provided.

MARTA says it budgets for 1,366 full-time bus operators and currently has about 1,179 on-staff. That's a 14-percent deficit.

It is hosting hiring events and offering a 3,000 dollar sign-on bonus to try and change that.

The Atlanta Professional Firefighters also took to social media, saying over 80 of their firefighters are quarantined with COVID-19, and the remaining ones are working 48 hour shifts.

It asks people to only call ambulances for emergencies, not to get tested for COVID-19 and adds that during peak times ambulances can take 2 hours to respond.

Credit: Facebook

That's no surprise to Blackmon, because it correlates to what healthcare professionals are seeing in hospitals.

"They’re taking more patients than they should," she said. "We don't have the people to give them the hospital care because they are sick too.”

The Atlanta Professional Firefighters also ask that people get driven to the emergency room if they need to go to the hospital and don’t have a life-threatening emergency.

Before You Leave, Check This Out