SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Nurses have been called the backbone of the medical profession, but a shortage of nurses has been an ongoing problem since before the pandemic, and Savannah is not immune to that problem.

On a local level, Memorial Health is working to tackle that problem head-on.

“I think our staffing situation really reflects our staffing situation across the country,” says Todd Isbell, chief nursing officer at Memorial Health.

One doctor, who chose to remain anonymous, says she needs the help now more than ever.

“In the last few months, we’ve been expected to manage anywhere from eight to 18 patients on a shift, we’ve had tons of nurses calling out, we’re losing nurses left and right,” she says.

Isbell says the shortage has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, retirement and other factors that are unique to our area.

“We have military spouses and they sort of come and go,” says Isbell. “And so they’re sort of a cycle of when there’s military deployments happening and when they’re leaving.”

The doctor tells News 3 the demand is increasing.

“I have patients sick with COVID, patients with a lot of other medical issues, and it’s completely unreasonable to think that we can manage this with one person on at a time,” she says.

The hospital says they’re on it.

“I understand the strength of the clinical expertise that our licensed practical nurse brings to us, so more of those, and paramedics will be utilized as a care extender in an emergency room,” says Isbell.

Isbell says they’re looking to hire 100 nurses per year to meet these needs and are hoping to get them in the door as soon as possible.

“We really talk about it more as a moving target. We will always need more nurses, and at a hospital this size we’ll always need more staff,” he Isbell.

Isbell also says he plans to strengthen the health system’s partnership with Georgia Southern University and other local schools to recruit new workers.