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New report highlights understaffing, high turnover in nursing industry

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(WOLF) -- Nurses are on the front lines when it comes to treating patients acting as their advocates, eyes, and ears, but many are concerned that the load is becoming too much to take on.

A report released today by the non-profit group Nurses of Pennsylvania takes a look inside the industry in the state from a nurse’s perspective.

1,000 nurses across the state were surveyed.

“Less and less staffing then given more complex patients – its gives us less time at the bedside.”

Leisa K. is from Wyoming County and has been a nurse in the ER for 26 years.

She says over the course of her career, there’s rarely been a shift she’s worked that hasn’t been short-staffed.

94% of nurses agree, saying their facilities don’t have enough nursing staff.

87% say its getting worse.

And Leisa says the opioid crisis is making things tougher still.

“We’ve seen such an increase in the volume of patients in very small towns, disproportionate number of patients with mental health issues and drug-related issues, and drug-related violence and of course, tragically, a very large number of overdoses.”

And while the report says that Pennsylvania is not suffering from a shortage of available nurses, Leisa says its all about business.

“If there’s not any shortage going on then you assume that nurses are there, nurses are one of your biggest costs in healthcare and if you’re running a business you’re going to eliminate the biggest cost, so nurses are a large cost, so if you decrease the number of nurses, you decrease your bottom line.”

84% of nurses surveyed say turnover is a problem at their workplace and many are choosing to leave the profession altogether.

Those numbers, daunting to those entering the field.

One of the nurses we spoke to had words of encouragement to share.

“Keep in mind that the most important thing they’re doing is taking care of the patient and what they should be concentrating is taking care of the patient, giving the care they need, and do one task at a time,” Jen K., a nurse from Lackawanna County, said.

In addition to this report, the nurses we spoke with are supporting a transparency bill which would require healthcare facilities to share staffing information with the public.

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