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Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Reaching Dangerous Levels at AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet
Apr 13, 2020
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Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Reaching Dangerous Levels at AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet

Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Reaching Dangerous Levels at AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet

In a public statement on April 10, Illinois Nurses Association warned that the nurse-to-patient ratio at AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center (ASJMC) in Joliet is four times higher than safe levels in the COVID-19 units. ASJMC had previously recommended staffing in COVID care units, where patients require around-the-clock care and monitoring, be at a 1-to-1 ratio of nurse to patient.

According to INA, due to COVID-19, that ratio is now up to one nurse for every four patients.

INA also learned that 16 nurses are potentially positive COVID-19 cases, creating an immediate shortage of skilled nurses to help patients. The hospital recently furloughed 45 staff, including 16 nurses, further exacerbating the problem.

“There are not enough nurses in the ER, ICU and the COVID-19 unit,” said Pat Meade, RN at ASJMC. “Runners are needed to assist the nurse because we can’t leave the critical patients.”

Higher nurse-to-patient ratios are associated with higher mortality rates and higher rates of workplace violence.

“These ratios are putting nurses and patients at risk,” said Alice Johnson, executive director of the INA.

Meade expressed frustration that nurses’ advice on public health preparation was not taken as seriously as it should have been.

The hospital this week reported five deaths associated with COVID-19. Further, nine patients were transferred from Stateville Correctional Center for treatment. As of today, there are 62 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 or are under investigation for the virus.

INA learned this week that 12 correctional center staff tested positive while 187 staff await results. Additionally, 14 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, and 77 have shown symptoms. It’s likely, given the outbreak in correctional centers, that all Joliet-area hospitals will be taxed to capacity soon.

Earlier this week, INA learned that 48 nurses and a total of 174 staff who work at the University of Illinois Hospital tested positive, up from the previously reported 18.

Photo courtesy of Eric Grinnard with The Herald-News, Shaw Media.

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