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Hale Co. Hospital faces down staffing shortage, COVID surge

The Hale County Hospital is not only tackling a surge in COVID cases, but a lack of nursing staff. This has extended Emergency Room wait times due to the high turnover rate.

Traci Fondren, Hale County Hospital Director of Infection Prevention, explained that many nurses have left for travel positions or jobs in larger cities. While Fondren encourages those former employees, she acknowledges the hospital is having a hard time.

Remaining employees work longer hours, with administrative staff stepping in to fill the lack of nurses. Since the hospital cannot hire travel nurses, they are at a dead end for solutions. Current employees have received incentives to remain on staff at the hospital. The hospital has even used federal COVID-19 funds to offer additional training to employees.

“Retention incentives for those that have chosen to stay. They’ve done that a couple of times and there is also incentives for coming in on your day off and covering a shift and that does help,” Fondren said.

For now this approach is working, despite a 24% percent increase in monthly expenses since the beginning of the pandemic. However Hale County has been forgiving to the hospital.

“I feel like there is a strong sense of community, we want to take good care of our community,” Fondren said.