THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — The nurse shortage is impacting families in need of home health care.
A Thomasville family is one of them in need of a nurse for their 1-year-old baby girl Meredith,. She came home for the first time just over a month ago after spending 419 days in the hospital.
Baby Meredith’s family says her development has been flourishing since she has been home, and she has been able to interact with her twin brother Bodie and older brother Kellan. The family relies on nurses for help since she needs to be monitored 24/7 by someone trained to care for a patient with a tracheotomy and ventilator.
“A lot of times … it’s just me and her where I’m watching her … and that’s going to happen … to anybody because of the shortage,” said Catina Southern, Meredith’s grandmother.
Meredith requires medical attention after she was born prematurely and with underdeveloped lungs.
She needs a nurse or person trained to monitor her ventilator and tracheotomy tube 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
“If there’s nobody in here to react right away or awake and have their wits about them then we’re in a really bad situation,” Southern said. “So it’s really important that any anybody in this situation has somebody nursing because a parent can’t do it. 24/7 is just not feasible or possible.”
Due to the shortage, if one of Meredith’s nurses is not able to work, there may not be a backup nurse available.
Her family is working to get close friends and relatives trained on monitoring and working with the ventilator and tracheotomy tube to serve as a helping hand if a nurse isn’t available.
Bayada Home Health Care helps place nurses with Meredith and says one of the factors leading to the nurse shortage is low pay and wages for home care workers.
“The problem is with the shortage. We’re already short-staffed with what we have, but there are so many more kids and families that need to come home. So we are unable to do that if we’re not able to provide for what we already have,” Bayada Home Health Care Clinical Manager Tammy Cardwell said.
Help could be coming now that state lawmakers passed the budget.
“We do appreciate North Carolina noticing the need for home care not only for children but for adults as well,” Cardwell said.
With the fall season bringing the risk of flu, RSV and COVID, it also impacts the home care nurse shortage. It also poses additional risk to patients like Meredith not being able to be around those with even the common cold.