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UVA partnering with PVCC to bring more nursing students into the hospital

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 4:28 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia Medical Center is teaming up with Piedmont Virginia Community College to help ease the strain on healthcare workers.

Administrators say this partnership comes at a crucial time as they’re adapting to staffing problems daily.

“We did know that we would have shortages in our workforce prior to COVID, and COVID has exacerbated that,” Wendi Horton with UVA Medical Center said.

“We have a staff that’s strained,” Dr. Kyle Enfield with the Special Pathogens Unit said. “They’re working hard, they want to take great care of everyone who comes in, but as our COVID volumes grow - and we take good care of these patients - it does take a toll over time.”

Dr. Enfield is referencing the COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit requiring more care: “When a patient gets critically ill, they’re in the ICU for a long period of time. So once they’re here, we expect them to be here for a couple of weeks,” he said.

This combining with the nation-wide shortage of nurses is having a far-reaching impact throughout the hospital.

“It does mean that we’re not able to transfer as many patients as we would like, so we need help from others around the state,” UVA Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Reid Adams said.

To meet the need, UVA is working with PVCC to grow their nursing student pipeline over the next few years.

“Currently, PVCC graduates about 100 in a two-year nursing program,” Horton said, “So the partnership will be to expand by 50 nurses every year.”

“Ninety percent of those patients have been unvaccinated. What [the] public can do right now to help ICU providers is to get vaccinated,” Enfield said.

The doctor also encourages people, vaccinated or not, to wear a mask when around others to help slow the spread.

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