Nursing shortage | St. Louis Public Radio

Nursing shortage

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Cindy Lefton has worked as a registered nurse for 37 years. For her, the job requires attention to not only patients’ physical needs, but to their loved ones, helping them know they're in good hands.

Lefton did just that for Dana Nichols Scott when Scott’s younger brother was in the emergency room in 2001. Scott said that even though she knew her brother wouldn’t make it, Lefton helped her family feel at peace.

“Cindy was so awesome. She was caring and made me and my family feel so good at the time,” Scott said. “Even when I think of that time now, during troubled times, I feel at peace because there are people like Cindy around to help people.”

From left, Natalie Murphy and Gabrielle Bahr joined Monday's show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Gabrielle Bahr remembers being fascinated by the medical field even as a young child. And her family’s experience a handful of years later, when her younger sister spent a few months in a neonatal intensive care unit and she interacted closely with the nurses there, solidified Bahr’s choice of career: She knew then and there it would become her passion.

Now a staff nurse in the emergency department of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Bahr has zero regrets about her job path despite its inherent stresses and difficulties. At the end of each long shift, she knows her work is meaningful. But sometimes she heads home feeling even more exhausted than usual. That’s because her nursing team, like so many in Missouri, is chronically short staffed.

Members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United union protest what they refer to as unsafe staffing levels at St. Louis University Hospital in Midtown on Sep. 9.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

For the second time in three years, union nurses at SSM Health-St. Louis University Hospital are protesting what they call unsafe staffing levels at the Midtown hospital.

There aren’t enough employees at the facility, said representatives of the National Nurses Organizing Committee, which represents the nurses at the hospital. Nurses constantly have to care for more patients than they can handle. Long wait times mean patients can become agitated and violent, putting employees at risk, representatives say. 

Provided | Tarlton

A new building at St. Louis Community College will help the region address a shortage of nurses and other health care professionals. 

The college officially opened its new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences on Friday. The $39 million facility is the first new building on the Forest Park campus in 20 years. 

The four-level, 96,000-square-foot building includes simulation labs, classrooms, a teaching area, a dental clinic and a functioning operating room.