COVID-19 ICU beds moved to other units due to burnout

Counseling help for frontline workers at Vanderbilt
COVID-19 nurse at Vanderbilt
Posted at 4:56 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 21:15:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, they’re moving a handful of COVID-19 beds to other units to give some nurses a break.

Burnout is leading to a nurse shortage in some cases. Jim Kendall is the Work/Life Connections Manager at Vanderbilt. They provide counseling for hospital staff.

"Most of all they say 'I don’t know how long I can keep going,” Kendall said. "One topic may be dealing with death, because we’re seeing more than ever before, and that’s heart-wrenching."

Kendall said he's been encouraging nurses to take time for self-care. "We’ve got to have some time where we get away from seeing the death and dealing with the illness, and just regroup, take some quiet time, get some exercise," Kendall said.

In addition, Dr. Todd Rice, the director of the medical intensive care unit, said they've moved some COVID beds to other floors.

"Which has decreased the load for us some, and made it so that we don’t have every single patient in the ICU has COVID, and we have a little bit of a variety, which also helps with some burnout," said Rice.

He said some of the rooms used for surgery have been converted into ICU beds for COVID patients.

"So we have to do a little bit with the beds, a bit with the equipment, and a lot with the personnel," Rice said. "But that’s what we’ve been doing the last 3 to 4 weeks in order to care for all of these patients."

Some people who are usually in the operating room are now taking care of COVID patients. After 18 months, it gives front-line workers a break.

Rice said, "From a nursing standpoint I think having a non-covid patient, they’re still critically ill but it’s a little less intensive, it’s almost like a break from having to wear all the PPE."

Dr. Rice said the best thing the public can do is get vaccinated. Rice said, “90% of the patients in my intensive care unit are not vaccinated, and it’s a little bit higher than that on the ventilator it’s about 95%"