Brooklyn VA Staffing Shortage a Microcosm of a Huge Problem

Faye Higbee
Screenshot via The Epoch Times

On January 13, several members of the National Nurses Union rallied at the Brooklyn VA Hospital to tell the administrators (and other hospitals) to staff up in order to give veterans and others hospitalized safe medical care. They stated that the staffing shortage has been going on for years, and isn’t only caused by the Covid outbreaks. It’s been exacerbated by the VA as well as other VAs across the country.

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Maria Lobifaro is an Intensive Care Unit nurse and the associate director of NNU. She worked at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center full time for nearly 10 years.

But last month she made the decision to convert from full-time to intermittent.

“The decision was solely made on the way that they’re staffing this hospital,” she told The Epoch Times. “It is unsafe. Not just for veterans, but for nurses.”

She went on to say that nurses are regularly “expected to take assignments outside of their scope of practice,” and that puts their nursing licenses in jeopardy.

Lobifaro said she’s personally met with upper management of the hospital on four separate occasions in 2021, and voiced her concerns regarding the staffing shortage each time.

“It fell on deaf ears,” she said. “The first meeting, they completely brushed it off. We told them, ′Your contract nurses are getting ready to leave; the regular nurses that work here cannot staff this facility.′ Didn’t do anything.”

Maria Lobifaro to The Epoch Times

Nurses within the system have claimed that the staffing process is extremely slow. The Brooklyn VA says it is “streamlining” their process for hiring. All while veterans are reportedly not receiving the best care possible.

“The system doesn’t care…This government has a tendency of always putting money other places. They seem to think that we did our job and we’re done. There’s not enough staffing to cover the people who need help…It’s very simple. Staff us up.”

US Navy Vietnam Veteran Gene DiGiacomo, Cancer survivor, rally attendee

The staffing shortage is by no means limited to just the Brooklyn VA. Other VAs have similar staffing shortages, partly because of the way the VA hires, partly because of the vaccine mandate, and partly because of a surging Covid variant that may not be as harmful but keeps nurses home instead of at work. The VA needs qualified applicants, and the vaccine mandate did not help in that regard.

The “disciplinary process” for unvaccinated Veterans Affairs workers began on October 8, 2021. They were told that if they continued to refuse the vaccine, they would be fired. Although many requested exemptions, VA Secretary McDonough stated he might deny those if there weren’t enough staff to help the veterans. Not enough staff or not enough qualified staff has reportedly been an issue at VA hospitals for years.

The rally at the Brooklyn VA hospital was meant to draw attention to a nationwide problem. Wtih the Supreme Court allowing the vaccine mandate to go through for healthcare workers this week, it doesn’t appear that the staffing shortages will be handled in the near future. The entire first year of the pandemic, healthcare workers were heroes. Now they’re treated as bad guys. Will they ever get it right?

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Featured screenshot via The Epoch Times

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