Short Staffing In HCA Healthcare Facilities Is Jeopardizing Patient Care, According To Survey Of Florida CaregiversJanuary 23, 2022
Media contact: Ed Gilhuly, 305-807-6906, firstname.lastname@example.org
MIAMI — As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 surges across Florida, caregivers at HCA Healthcare (NYSE:HCA) report critical understaffing at their facilities is jeopardizing patient care, according to a new survey announced by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the state’s largest union of healthcare workers.
Seventy-five percent of survey respondents working at 19 HCA facilities in Florida feel that their “floor or unit does not have the right level of staff for the patients I care for or my role,” while 80% say “short staffing at my hospital is compromising patient care.”
While two years of COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the crisis, understaffing at HCA predates the pandemic. HCA’s staffing levels have been 30% below the national industry averages for the past several years despite the company’s standing as the nation’s largest and most profitable hospital chain, according to 1199SEIU.
“Those of us working are providing the very best care we can, but it’s hard to hang on,” said Deborah Montgomery, a registered nurse (RN) in South Florida. “We’re exhausted. So many have burned out, and all this puts more pressure on staffing and care. This is not sustainable for patients, caregivers or our entire health system.”
Key survey findings include:
• 80.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the assertion, “I feel short staffing at my hospital is compromising patient care.”
• 74.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the assertion, “I feel my floor or unit does not have the right level of staff for the patients I care for or my role.”
• 70.3% of respondents answered “Yes” when asked, “Have you ever witnessed patient care be jeopardized by short staffing?”
• 66.4% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the assertion, “I feel my facility’s leadership does not take adequate action to address the needs of frontline nurses or healthcare workers like myself.”
• 57.3% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the assertion, “I feel I am being forced to find a new job/profession due to short staffing and burnout.”
• 54.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the assertion, “I do not feel my hospital is prepared for the next COVID-surge, and patient care will be compromised.”
Worker concern comes in the wake of reports of significant failures by HCA to protect staff throughout the pandemic. The corporation has already been sued for failing to protect frontline workers by providing inadequate PPE in the early months of the pandemic. HCA has also been accused of understaffing hospitals and contributing to avoidable patient death.
“Working caregivers to the bone and putting profit over patients is not the business model of a company that cares,” said Dale Ewart, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU Florida. “This survey of dedicated frontline workers reveals just how deep of a crisis caregivers and patients face every day at HCA.”
About the Survey
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) HCA Staffing Survey was fielded December 13 - January 10, 2021. The opt-in survey was conducted online in English using Google Forms, and included a national sample of 1,503 healthcare workers working for HCA Healthcare. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points for all respondents.
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest union of healthcare workers in Florida, representing more than 24,000 caregivers in about 30 hospitals and 80 nursing homes across the state.