Health Care Workers Protest Staffing Shortage at UM Capital Region Medical Center

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Health care workers rallied Thursday, calling for proper staffing at the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Largo.

Some nurses and support staff say they are burned out and they want Maryland legislators to make safe hospital staffing a priority in the state's budget.

Health care workers placed signs along Medical Center Driver calling for lives to be saved.

“We have people that are dying, that are dying because they’re not receiving the quality care that they deserve,” one protester said.

“I'm a lifelong community member myself, so it's disheartening,” intensive care nurse Lauren Reichard said.

She said while she's supposed to have a maximum of two patients per shift, she sometimes has twice that.

“It's exhausting and it's frustrating and it's also, we're caring for human beings, we're caring for human lives,” Reichard said.

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“Other hospitals are experiencing short staffing but I believe it's not in the way it is here at Capital Region,” 1199SEIU Vice President Taren Peterson said.

Last July, News4 reported complaints of short staffing at the hospital resulting in extraordinary wait times and overcrowding.  

“The reality is that since we moved in on June 12, we've experienced an unprecedented surge of patients coming to the emergency department, specifically,” Chief Medical Officer Joseph Wright said then.

School board member Belinda Queen spoke then about having to leave Capital Region and go to another hospital to be seen.  

“When we pulled up to the hospital, there had to be like 13 other ambulances already there at that hospital,” she said. 

Queen joined the rally Thursday after having another bad experience recently with a friend.

“I'm still disappointed in this hospital, but I'm more disappointed to hear when I hear the head nurse say she had five patients and she shouldn’t have patients,” she said. “I’m so disappointed ... not only is it understaffed, that we’re overworking them.”

Workers hope the rally and other efforts will convince the state to properly fund the hospital and ensure that staffing is up to par in Largo.

News4 reached out to a spokesperson with the Capital Region Medical Center and received the following statement:

"University of Maryland Capital Region Health has cared safely for thousands of COVID and non-COVID patients during the two-plus years of the pandemic, and our priority and focus is always on ensuring the safety of our patients and team members. We understand that the union is actively engaged in pursuing its legislative priorities during Maryland’s General Assembly session, and that today’s activities are in furtherance of those efforts. With regard to staffing, UM Capital has taken aggressive actions to address the local impact of a nationwide shortage of nurses and other clinical professionals. Our commitment and focus remains on providing safe, quality and compassionate care, while continuing to recruit the most talented professionals to our organization."

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