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US nurse who called emergency services on own hospital speaks out

A nurse in the USA who called emergency services in response to staffing issues at Silverdale, Washington-based St. Michael Medical Center spoke out about her decision and the events leading up to the call.

Kelsay Irby has been an emergency department charge nurse at the hospital for less than a year. On the 8 October, the night Ms Irby called emergency services for help, the ED was operating at less than 50% of its ideal staffing grid. Among the nearly 50 people in the hospital's waiting room were patients with cardiac or respiratory issues and children with high fevers — "all patients that made us very nervous to have in the lobby, unmonitored for extended periods of time," Ms. Irby said. 

The ED had one first-look nurse on the clock who was trying to keep up with patients checking in and could not supervise those waiting for care. After exhausting all other available options, Ms. Irby said she called emergency services' nonemergent line and asked the dispatcher if any crews were available to help ED staff. Ms. Irby was connected with a local fire chief who sent an emergency services crew to the hospital to monitor patients in the lobby, retake their vitals and do roll calls to ensure the ED team's patient list was accurate. 

Ms. Irby's actions made national headlines in the US as a dramatic example of the staffing issues hospitals nationwide are facing. 

"I didn’t recognize the impact of what I was doing that night," Ms. Irby wrote. "I was simply working my way down the list of possible sources of help for my coworkers and ultimately our patients."

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Source: Becker's Hospital Review, 8 November 2022


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