NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - With their COVID units filling up, hospitals seek contract labor and outside staff.

From a Nashville nurse writing on Twitter, “It’s bad…we’re struggling with staff and lack of beds,” to a Nashville doctor sharing a News4 Investigates story about how few beds remain at Vanderbilt’s COVID unit, front line responders are turning to social media to tell their grim reality.

“You have to remember, (hospitals) have a set number of nurses and staff who have been dealing with this for 8 months – and everyone is getting tired and fatigued,” Dr. Gill Wright, a member of Metro’s Coronavirus Task Force, said.

At the task force’s Thursday morning news conference, doctors warned the public that hospital staff is getting sick as well.

“They’re not getting infected in the hospitals – in fact, and hospitals are fairly safe. They’re getting infected in the community,” Dr. Alex Jahangir, chairman of the Metro’s Coronavirus Task Force, said. “The reason there’s not enough staff available is because the staff at area hospitals are also getting infected.”

News4 Investigates now confirmed that at least two city hospitals must hire outside staff to help fill the void.

In an email, Katie Dieterich, spokeswoman for TriStar Centennial, wrote, “Given the recent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, TriStar Centennial has brought in additional staff from outside the area to provide support for our hard-working clinicians and to ensure we have enough staff to care for our patients. We have trained and qualified staff working in all patient care areas. We continue our are commitment of safe, high-quality patient care.”

Michelle Heard, the spokeswoman for Ascension State Thomas Hospital, wrote in an email, “Ascension Saint Thomas has increased the pool of PRN associates. Additionally, Ascension Saint Thomas has supplemented their workforce with travelers and short-term contract labor to support increased volumes due to COVID-19.”

Vanderbilt spokeswoman said she could not comment on their staffing levels, and our repeated calls to Metro General hospital were not returned.

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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