MIDLAND, Texas — Nurses and healthcare workers are what keep us safe and healthy, but in recent years retaining those workers has been a struggle.
"Nurses are the life blood of the healthcare system and they've been stretched and stretched really to their limit under the pandemic," said Maureen Milligan, president and CEO of the Teaching Hospitals of Texas.
Even thought the pandemic has slowed, healthcare workers aren't returning.
"You're seeing hospitals close floors and units in their facilities so now the community is suffering, you know, if they don't have a certain surgery center that is no longer open or a certain floor is no longer open and patients have to travel even further to get this care," said Dan Pollock, chief executive officer of Advantis Medical.
It's even harder and more costly to get healthcare workers into rural areas.
"The smaller the city, the more rural the town. Those are the times when you have to pay a premium to the cost of living that you would see in a large city and you see that as a cycle that makes it hard for these hospitals to turn a profit," said Pollock.
The shortage is partly due to nurses retiring, burnout and better pay elsewhere.
"We saw nurses leave staff positions to take travel assignment for the first time ever and a major motivation was money," said Pollock.
This shortage is also not only impacted hospitals but nursing homes as well.
Some solutions for the shortage are increased pay, more resources for nurses, compensation for more experienced nurses when they're training and encouraging students to go into the healthcare field.