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Missouri Nurses Are Struggling To Find Reasons To Stay On The Job

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A side shot of a female nurse standing in full personal protective equipment including a white head piece with a clear face shield and a black hose attached to the back, a blue disposable face mask and a yellow disposable gown holding a clipboard in her right hand and a pen and piece of paper in her left.
Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
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Nurses in Missouri are burning out and leaving the profession.

Frontline nurses wonder if caring for COVID-19 patients while facing persistent vaccine resistance is worth the emotional and physical toll.

It's been more than 18 months since the first cases of COVID-19 landed in Missouri. Many frontline health workers have battled the coronavirus battle every day for more than a year.

For those seeing the worst the pandemic has to offer, the toll has been tremendous.

Heidi Lucas of the Missouri Nurses Association said as the likelihood of a vaccine approached, spirits were beginning to rise. "And then just to see we've not had the numbers of people taking the vaccine as we would have thought... that really has shattered a lot of our nurses," Lucas said.

Lucas described the desperation she hears in patients' voices when they're hospitalized with COVID-19. "They're getting ready to hook somebody up to a ventilator, people are begging for the vaccine . . . and it's too late. Our nurses have to tell them, 'I'm sorry, I can't give it to you.'"

She said the trauma the nurses experience from this will have far-reaching and lasting effects.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at chrisy@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.