Published on October 08, 2021

Health care industry challenged by COVID surge, staffing shortages

Mike Phelps, CEO

Mike Phelps, President & CEO Ridgeview

It’s not often I write openly to you in this way – speaking about current events in the health care industry and specifically at Ridgeview. The last editorial I shared was November 2020 in which I addressed the first COVID-19 surge. At that time, I acknowledged that you may be “COVID-message fatigued,” yet it is important to address the topic again, in addition to other current health care challenges.

Over the past 19 months, we have all made sacrifices and felt frustrated by COVID. There’s no question the fatigue and disappointment with how our lives have been affected is real, and it takes an even greater toll on everyone when it is this persistent and this drawn out. Nowhere is this more evident than in the debate and divide over vaccinations and masking. Kindness, compassion, and empathy have gone to the wayside, it seems – but it’s not just within these debates. That is why I am writing to you today.

Overall, the demand for health care across the state is up dramatically, and like many industries, health systems and hospitals are also faced with staffing shortages which is particularly challenging as we reach peak capacity levels. When we compound increased demand for care with the dramatic uptick in COVID cases and hospitalizations, the result is state-wide supply issues, hospital bed shortages and greater staffing shortages, culminating in a strained health care system.

Ridgeview has not been immune to these issues, and our staff is working much more and much longer hours to care for the community. Due to these compounding factors, you will likely experience longer wait times in our emergency rooms and urgent care locations. We may be forced to prioritize sicker patients ahead of others or ask that you reschedule or delay an elective procedure. Everyone will be required to follow our masking precautions. But despite all of this, please know that we will absolutely provide you the best care as quickly as possible, and we will treat you as our brand promise states – that You Matter Here.

I understand patience may have thinned as of late – mine has, too. But let’s pause and think about how we’re treating each other. Please show more empathy and kindness toward our health care workers –and everyone who’s serving our community without hesitation during the pandemic. Please understand that these are unique times and we are doing everything within our power to meet and exceed expectations. I’m just asking for a return to kindness and compassion toward others while we get through this pandemic together.

In closing, thank you for trusting Ridgeview with your care. I assure you we will continue to meet challenges head on and be the organization you trust to keep you and your loved ones healthy.