SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins and local healthcare leaders held a briefing Wednesday to address expected staff shortages in area hospitals when federal support for extra staffing expires at the end of the month.

State contracted nurses and staff members supplemented hospital staffing throughout the pandemic. The federal agencies supporting those services will no longer be covering those costs after July 1.

The shortages are primarily in nursing. The focus of Wednesday’s briefing was on recruiting and retaining quality health care providers.

Knox Andress, RN Region 7 Hospital DRC LSU Health Science Center, says the staffing shortages were already an issue and COVID made things worse.

“These staffing shortages did not start with COVID-19, but it did add additional stressors because of a large number of nurses eligible for retirement, taking travel nurse positions, leaving bedside care for other jods within the hospital and others who have changed professions completely,” Andress said.

Region 7 has approximately 307 state-supported staff spread across 12 hospitals in the region. When federal support for these contracted staff members ends, there will be a significant reduction in staff.

Leaders in healthcare are asking for the public’s patience as they do all they can to work with nursing and allied health schools as well as recruit retired nurses and travel nurses in an effort to bolster gaps in the workforce.

The mayor and all of the healthcare leaders had a unified message for patients.

  • Use emergency rooms for emergencies only – things like chest pains, shortness of breath, and other life-threatening emergencies.
  • Seek your primary care provider or urgent care center for non-emergency health issues.
  • Take care of your overall health – keep appointments with your primary care provider, take meds as prescribed, and make wellness a priority.
  • Be safe when swimming, and enjoying other holiday and summer activities.
  • Be patient with hospital staff, they are struggling to provide quality care with limited resources.
  • COVID is not over so vigilance is still needed to keep infection rates down as we go into the July 4 holiday.

As of Wednesday, Region 7 accounts for 20% of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana. There were 491 new cases in our region alone, with the Louisiana Department of Health reporting 2,405 new cases statewide. Officials say 56% of the new cases were patients who were not fully vaccinated.