After traveling nurses quit, hospital blames lack of EHR familiarity

[This article has been updated with further comment from Providence St. Joseph Hospital representatives.]

Four out of six traveling intensive care unit nurses quit just one day after arriving at Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California, this past week.  

The reason, according to hospital officials quoted in local outlet the Times-Standard, concerned a lack of familiarity with the hospital’s electronic health record.  

“The primary reason was that they were not familiar with our electronic medical record system – a system that is used by many hospitals,” said Dr. Roberta Luskin-Hawk, chief executive for Providence in Humboldt County.   

“Providence St Joseph Hospital currently has Meditech as the electronic health record and will be transitioning to Epic later this month,” explained Luskin-Hawk in an email to Healthcare IT News after publication.

“The state of California [Medical Health Operational Area Coordination] system has been supporting the pandemic response by allocating staffing resources to hospitals who are being heavily impacted by the pandemic, whose usual temporary staffing agencies are unable to provide the needed personnel. This necessitates the use of new agencies and in this case, the RNs sent to Eureka didn’t have experience with Meditech,” she continued.

“Education was quickly developed,” she added. “The situation reflects the rapidly changing deployment of healthcare workers from all sources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

WHY IT MATTERS  

Providence St. Joseph had originally brought in six traveling ICU nurses and two respiratory therapists last week amidst the ongoing resource strain of COVID-19.   

As of Wednesday, there were only seven available ICU beds in Humboldt County; 10 were occupied by COVID-19 patients.   

But four of those ICU nurses quit the day after they came onboard, said Times-Standard reporter Isabella Vanderheiden.  

A California Nurses Association spokesperson told Vanderheiden the nurses were not given adequate resources, “including access to the unit’s electronic charting system, and were immediately handed full patient assignments with little in the way of orientation. So, four out of the six quit.”   

“In the words of one of them, the travelers were ‘thrown to the wolves,’ and with all the opportunities available to travelers these days, they just didn’t come back,” said the spokesperson, Ian Seldon.  

THE LARGER TREND  

Clinician morale has taken a major hit under COVID-19, with caregivers reporting increased feelings of burnout in the second year of a devastating pandemic.  

Healthcare staff say technology can often help – but it can also make things worse.  

EHR usability is a significant factor.   

“When the EHR and other systems require so many boxes to be checked and screens to be confirmed, it can undermine our time and focus on patient care,” Sophia L. Thomas, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, told Healthcare IT News this past year.

ON THE RECORD  

“In addition to meeting the immediate needs of our communities, we are excited to be transitioning to a more widely used electronic medical record system in the coming weeks and will continue to work on additional projects that will enhance our health care delivery system over the near term and for years to come,” said Providence’s Luskin-Hawk.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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