‘A vicious cycle’: Polk County nurses experiencing burnout amid COVID-19 spike


LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Doctors and nurses are expressing their frustration as COVID-19 cases surge in Polk County.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows cases jumped 62% in seven days and hospitalizations have increased 45% in that timeframe.

Officials at Lakeland Regional Medical Center tell 8 On Your Side they’ve seen more than 170 coronavirus patients in the last week.

“It’s just a vicious cycle of not having enough nurses and then them quitting because they’re exhausted,” said nurse Tiffany McMahan.

Hospital leaders, under pressure are trying to quickly hire more nurses.

“As we look at increased volume throughout the end of the year, it’s probably adding 150 nurses, preparing for the busy season in December and January,” said the hospital’s Chief Human Resources Director Scott Dimmick.

Health care workers say they’ve had to put patients in overflow rooms due to the summer surge.

Nurses are being offered incentives for working extra hours, including $500 extra per shift with a four week commitment.

“Personally, my health-wise and stuff, I don’t know that I can do it for the $500. We’re battle weary,” said critical care nurse Hershey Pyle.

Leaders at the hospital say this is an “all hands on deck” situation but do not consider this to be a nursing “shortage.”

Lakeland Regional Health holds “Walk-in Wednesday” job fair events every week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Mulaney Auditorium lobby inside the Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children.

The hiring event includes nurses, other medical positions and non-medical opportunities.

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