Comanche County Memorial Hospital is asking for retired nurses and for nurses who aren’t working right now to consider going back into the workforce and helping them as they try to take care of the community. Melissa Alvillar, RN and director of nursing operations at CCMH, said a year ago, many nurses worked three 12-hour shifts every week, but as we all know, 2020 has been anything but normal.

“A lot of these people are working 4 and 5 12-hour shifts a week,” Alvillar said. “Which is 10 days in a pay period to help take care of our patients because of the nursing shortage.”

Alvillar started her position in March, right as the pandemic was hitting. She’s been tasked to think outside of the box to find some additional support for the nursing team.

“It’s been hard, but I think they have it harder than I do. I stress on a global level, but they’re stressing daily taking care of our patients and making sure that they’re getting the care that they need. I have so much honor and respect for them and everything they do every single day,” she said. “They’re working for our community is what they’re doing. They know that the patients keep coming. We’re having an increase in COVID patients after Thanksgiving, and the nurses know that if they’re not here the patients will not receive care.”

Which is encouraging them to come in day after day, shift after shift. While many are coming in, Alvillar says some nurses have been forced to quarantine because of community spread.

“So, it’s just a struggle for them to cover not only with the increase in patients, but when they have staff members out on quarantine, they have to pick up extra shifts.”

Because of the shortage, it’s also making it hard for them to take a break during their 12-hour shift.

“A lot of these nurses are not even having the opportunity to leave the floor to take a lunch because there is no relief for them.”

This is why they’re hoping retired nurses and healthcare workers would consider coming and helping during this pandemic.

“It would be a huge help,” she said. “In a 12-hour period, when you don’t get to eat, and this happens frequently. I mean, they may try to get a snack of something, but for somebody to come in and say, ‘hey, I want to help you to where you can get a 30-minute lunch to step away for 30 minutes and refresh.’ That would be huge for our staff.”

Alvillar said there are things that retired or nurses who are not currently working could do because of their training.

“If they could and wanted to sit and be a sitter with a patient so that our nurse aides could come out on the floor and help the nurses care for the patients. I mean, there are things that they can do to help us.”

She says one thing the community can do is to wear masks, keep practicing social distancing, and wash your hands thoroughly. The hospital is also offering incentives and sign-on bonuses to come work at CCMH. If you’d like more information, you can check the hospital’s website or call 580-510-7068.