Why Alamance County is seeing a critical nursing shortage

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(WGHP) — If you have gone to an emergency room lately you may have experienced longer wait times.

“When I got diagnosed with COVID I was over here three hours, when I came over by rescue unit, I was over here 10 hours, so I don’t know how long I’ll be over here now,” Wendy Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw arrived at the Alamance Regional Medical Center Emergency Room Tuesday afternoon a little apprehensive.

“I mean the waiting rooms are unreal,” she said.

“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has just exacerbated what we have already been seeing, especially smaller areas like Alamance County or Alamance Regional Medical Center,” said Kenneth Rempher, chief nurse executive of Cone Health System.

Rempher said Alamance Regional Medical Center has 27 vacancies.

With the continued surge of the delta variant, nurses are doubling up on duties, shifts, and hours, causing some nurses to retire early.

“There are nurses leaving the profession because they were close to retirement anyway and the current situation has put them at that point where they have decided to spend their final years of nursing doing something else out of direct patient care,” Rempher said.

Alma Thompson, head of the nursing department at Alamance Community College, says she feels a lack of nursing faculty is part of the problem.

“The faculty is not there because they are also leaving the field. It’s making it difficult across the state to find qualified nursing faculty,” she said.

A dozen nursing students are set to graduate at Alamance Community College in December. Thompson hopes it helps with the shortage so patient care is not affected.

“That would be a concern for me is that patients could die, or not be treated, or not be seen,” she said.

The Alamance County Health Department sent a statement saying public health must compete with other private agencies for available nurses in the workplace. This makes things tougher as the salaries can be higher and bonuses are offered.

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‘We’re all a family’: Mount Tabor High School students return to class after deadly shooting

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Students and teachers headed back to Mount Tabor High School’s campus on Tuesday six days after one of their classmates was shot and killed inside.

“To see their little faces as they went inside,” said Hilda Milam, a neighbor. “You could see pain in their faces.”

Students, parents and the Mount Tabor community held their breath this morning as kids walked back on campus.

Many were anxious to see how kids and faculty members would handle the return six days after William Miller Jr. was shot and killed.

“I was very anxious about it,” said AC Berger, a student. “I had a very hard experience when the event went on. Just very nervous.”

“I definitely thought something was going to happen. Some type of fight. There were a lot of rumors,” said Xiemea Nunez, a student.

After the bell rang at 3:40 p.m., many breathed a sigh of relief.

“We took the day off. We didn’t do a lot of work. They have a bunch of memorials, writing letters to his family and everything. It was really nice,” Nunez said.

Inside, teachers and students took time to talk and rest their minds. They offered therapy dogs and counseling to students who needed it.

“We’re all a family out here. We’re all trying to cheer each other up,” said Ryan Nava, a student. “Will is still out here. He’s going to look at us.”

However, healing takes time.

“Walking down that hallway is crazy. It gives you flashbacks for real, though,” said James Galway, a student. “When the bell goes off, I got scared today. I ain’t going to lie.”

FOX8 checked on student attendance today at Mount Tabor High School.

A total of 351 students were absent. That’s more than double the normal amount of around 150.

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Triad doctors discuss surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations, plead with public to get vaccinated

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(WGHP) — On Tuesday morning, Doctors with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, Cone Health and Novant Health hospitals in the Triad addressed a recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Combined, the three systems report 754 patients are hospitalized, and 145 of them on life support. According to the hospitals, more than 90% of these patients are unvaccinated, more are younger and many are from communities with low rates of vaccination and resistance to wearing masks.

People waiting at Moses Cone’s emergency department Tuesday said they noticed longer wait times. One man told FOX8 he arrived for chest pain but decided to leave after waiting several hours. 

“All of our ED volumes are above historical levels with people needing care for COVID or non-COVID,” said Dr. John Mann, who serves as president of the Novant Health Clemmons Medical Center. 

When asked when cases will peak, experts said it won’t be much longer. 

“Labor Day weekend may add a little bit of fuel to that. We saw that with all of our other holidays throughout the last 18 months, but we certainly not seeing precipitous rise that we saw three or four weeks ago,” Dr. Mann explained. 

He said Novant Health is moving patients within the system and converting medical units to intermediate or intensive care units. 

Health experts said they have enough oxygen supply and PPE,  but staffing is a challenge. 

“Not only are we all dealing with a nursing shortage and other ancillary services shortage…we are also realizing the crux of it is that we know that so much of this is preventable,” said Dr. Cynthia Snider, medical director for infection prevention in Cone Health. 

Cone Health reported 161 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of midnight on Tuesday. 

“They are doing the best they can. I used to work in a hospital. It’s hard under good circumstances. I can’t believe everybody hasn’t just thrown their clipboards and walked away,” a woman who asked not to be identified said outside the hospital while waiting on a relative to be treated. 

All three health systems are urging people to get vaccinated to help reduce the surge in hospitalizations. 

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Students prepare to return to NC high school nearly a week after deadly school shooting

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Students will return to school 6 days after a school shooting left one of their classmates dead.

William Miller Jr (courtesy of Kwik Flix Photography)
William Miller Jr

Mount Tabor High School has been closed since Wednesday, Sept. 1, when William Miller Jr. was shot inside the school.

Miller died at the hospital that day.

There will be an increased law enforcement presence at the school as students return. They want students and parents to feel secure and supported.

“Their sense of security was damaged, but what they have to understand now is we’ll have a lot of police officers in the building and I think we’ll be safer than ever,” Jackson Miller, a Mount Tabor student, said.

William Miller Jr.’s memorial overflows with candles and balloons outside the school

Inside, words of encouragement decorate the hallways, reminding everyone who walks through Mount Tabor that the community has their back, that they are loved, and that they are “Spartan Strong.”

“This is such a great community. Like it brings me to tears just to think about it. These parents, school-wide, parents, teachers, kids they just love each other so much and I think its always been this way,” said parent Rachel Hoenig.

The first bell is at 8:55 a.m.

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By HitNews