Nurses coming out of retirement to help fight COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 3, 2020 at 4:06 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Personal protective equipment has been in short supply, but will there be enough medical staff across the country to care for millions of sick patients? Help may soon be on the way.

“The number of retired nurses that are seeking to get their license back tripled in the month of March. So we are seeing a response to the plea for retired nurses to come back,” said Tina Gerardi, Tennessee Nurses Association.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee made that possible by issuing an order that loosens restrictions for retired medical professionals who want to get back in the workforce to help with the coronavirus pandemic.

“They will probably use the retired nurses to backfill areas in the hospital where they may not be actively taking care of COVID-19 patients but that would free up other nurses to be available to care for other patients.”

Tina Gerardi, executive director of the Tennessee Nurses Association, says it is very stressful right now working with the pandemic where the rules seem to change every day.

“What you thought was OK yesterday may not be OK today, or appropriate, depending on your supplies and what you’re being told,” said Gerardi.

And then there is the issue of wondering if there will be enough protective equipment like gowns, masks and gloves and wondering if you are bringing the virus home to your family.

Gerardi says the Tennessee Department of Health expects the peak of the coronavirus to come in two weeks.

She has one plea: stay at home, practice social distancing.

“For everyone that goes out, isn’t adhering to social distancing and stay at home, that’s an additional two weeks that we’re all going to have to stay home,” said Gerardi.

Girardi says nurses who want to come out of retirement will first assess their overall health before they decide to come out of retirement.

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