Significant health care workforce shortages, combined with an increase in COVID-19 cases and non-COVID patient care, have prompted Scripps Health to temporarily delay some medical procedures that can be safely postponed. Decisions on which procedures are delayed are being made on a case-by-case basis by medical staff based on clinical factors. Emergency, time-sensitive care continues to be delivered.
Scripps is also evaluating temporarily consolidating some ambulatory sites due to the staffing shortage.
“The COVID pandemic has taken a serious toll on health care workers across the nation, and many have decided to leave the field entirely for reasons such as fatigue and burnout,” said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder. “We’re doing all we can to fill open positions and shifts, but options are currently limited across the board in health care, so we’re doing what’s necessary to ensure we have staff available for our most urgent cases.”
Overall, Scripps is currently looking to fill 1,309 full- and part-time open positions, compared to 832 open positions in August 2019, before the pandemic emerged. Looking strictly at registered nurses, Scripps currently has 433 full- and part-time open positions, compared to 220 openings in August 2019.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients at Scripps hospitals continues to grow. Scripps currently has 173 COVID-positive patients admitted at its five hospital campuses – a significant jump from 13 hospitalized COVID patients on June 15, when the state of California ended its tiered reopening system and relaxed its social distancing and masking requirements. Along with the surge in COVID-19 cases, Scripps is also seeing many patients needing care that was delayed during the pandemic, creating an even greater demand for services.
“We are asking people to please get vaccinated. Wear masks. Do what you can to vanquish this pandemic,” Van Gorder said. “We in health care simply will not be able to continue to help this community and our patients in the way we need to if we are faced with an ever-increasing number of COVID cases on top of the large number of patients we are treating already and the level of staffing we have available.”
Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.