Tennessee nurses are overwhelmed, hospitals are nearing capacity

Nurses across Tennessee are highly concerned about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the state as campuses are opening for the fall semester and children in K-12 grades are returning to school. Positivity rates and hospital admissions are rising in both rural and urban areas, and hospitals are still grappling with a nursing shortage that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Nurses are reaching the end of their physical and emotional reserves. Pediatric and adult ICU units are full,” said Tina Gerardi, MS, RN, Executive Director of the Tennessee Nurses Association. “The public is tired of this, nurses are tired of this, and something has to change to bring relief from the increasing cases and hospitalizations across the state.”

A clear pattern has emerged of unvaccinated people contracting COVID-19 across all parts of the state. Recent estimates from the Tennessee Health Department show that over 98% of COVID-19 deaths and 97% of hospitalizations are now among the unvaccinated.

“We are asking Tennesseans to do their part to help beat the virus and bring relief to a stressed healthcare system,” said Gerardi. “If you can get vaccinated, get it as soon as possible. The virus is real and raging across our state. COVID-19 vaccines are proven to reduce the spread of the virus and the severity of the illness if someone does contract COVID-19.”

Current vaccines are also still effective against the Delta variant, which is spreading rapidly in Tennessee. TNA has seen several large healthcare employers across the state mandate vaccinations for their employees. TNA highly encourages all nurses to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

As case numbers near where they were during last year’s summer surge, nurses are asking Tennesseans to continue wearing masks while indoors, practice physical distancing, wash their hands often and above all to get vaccinated. Something has to give – getting vaccinated is an essential component to helping stop the spread as we enter the school season.