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jayinsat

COVID Exacerbates Technologist Shortage

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The current COVID crisis has exacerbated the ongoing issue of the shortage of technologists in the field. In San Antonio Texas US where the virus is peaking, our systems are strecthed to the limit and many of our techs are burned out. Most of our techs are 50 years old or older and just can't work anymore hours. The younger ones are doing as much overtime as possible but they are complaining. We cannot fill any new positions because, frankly, there is no one. Is anyone else experiencing increased staffing issues highlighted by COVID?

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Yes we are having similar issues in San Diego.  Being the only children's hospital between Mexico, Arizona boarder and Orange county we are doing a majority of all testing on children (even for Kaiser) plus we have contracts with multiple hospitals, the Navy and the county of SD and Riverside!!  We are trying to hire staff but state of CA is a pain with licensure of CLS (generalist) vs molecular diagnostics (limited license that can only do human genetic testing - stupid since it exactly the same testing just on a virus).  We're a small hospital lab and by Monday we're supposed to be able to run 2,000 tests per day!!  Our max so far was 717 yesterday and we don't have the staff to run our high throughput assay 24/7.  Plus our other 2 platforms don't have the reagent supply to keep up with demand either.  It's absolutely ridiculous.  We can't pull any more staff off the bench and still meet our TAT for routine and stat testing and instead of doing my office job most of the time I'm having to either cover the bench in the blood bank or do someone else in leadership's job or attend extra meetings just so others can take a day off.  We have staff that have been working every single day, no day off, since March when CA shut down initially.  I just don't see how we can keep up this pace.    

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Same thing happening in Chicago.

We have 7 opening across all 3 shifts since this all started in March in our Blood Bank department for a level 1 trauma center. Other department is overrun too like molecular with all the covid testing and all their opening. Our max FTE is like 24 techs.  And if any of our tech is in close contact to anyone with Covid, they cannot come back to work for 2 weeks with no symptom and negative testing. Luckily it only happen to 2-3 tech over the past 3 months.

Everyone is really burnt out and we all easily pull like 20-40 hours OT weekly. They literally look like a zombie :(  We manage to get a few temp agency and desperately in need for more but haven't gotten any. Agency contract is ending too and they not extending. Haven't gotten any new hire beside the batch pre-Covid and we are looking at a international one, pending on their work visa approval. And it is so busy everyday due to all the backlog surgery. 

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