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KTNV 13 Action News

Nevada hitting a critical point in nursing shortage

By Abel Garcia,


The state of Nevada is close to hitting a critical point in health care as the shortage of nurses continues to get worse.

Diego Trujillo, the President & CEO of the Las Vegas Health Care says we are about 5,000 nurses short and on the verge of emergency action.

Brian Paonessa has been a registered nurse here in the valley for about 7 and a half years. He says right now many nurses have a heavy workload, but he says if this continues the quality of care for patients will decline.

"Nursing call-offs, we are short-staffed on floors, you get floated to different floors depending on the nurse ratio either that day or night," Paonessa said.

Paonessa says it's been a problem for years, not only affecting healthcare in Southern Nevada, but also his own mental health.

"You don't know where you are going, you don't know what your patient load is going to look like, and you will be spread thin, if you are already having a bad day or if you are not mentally ready, it's going to be a rough 12 hours," said Paonessa.

Paonessa is not alone, Diego Trujillo says thousands of nurses have left their jobs and the turnover is not keeping up with the growing demand for health care.

“At the end of the day when you have an emergency and you want to get the best care and we need the nursing staff to not be overwhelmed," said Trujillo.

Trujillo says if the shortage gets worse, he says we could face a state of emergency.

“We need a workforce pipeline that will make sense in the State of Nevada,” Trujillo said.

13 Action News asked The Healthcare Union SEIU Local 1107, who represents healthcare workers in the state, what the biggest concern is right now for hospitals in Southern Nevada. Grace Vergara-Mactal, the executive director sent us a statement that reads in part quote:

"The pandemic exposed the systemic issues of staffing shortages… Some workplaces are leaning on high staff-to-patient ratios during the shortage, rather than treating employees in a way that entices them to stay."

Brian says if we continue this way things won’t end well.

"When that patient-to-nurse ratio is that high, you're putting your license at risk but you are also putting your patient's lives at risk, and that is the scary part about it," Paonessa said.

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