PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s National Nurses Week, recognizing millions of nurses across the country, and Thursday many will come together at the White House for the National Nurses March. Nurses have faced some especially difficult challenges with the pandemic – they’re stressed and burned out and calling for a change.
The industry has never faced such a crisis, nurses working for over two years in a pandemic are facing alarming rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
It’s prompted many to leave the field, giving way to critical staffing shortages.
“We’re suffering nurses are suffering,” Nina Velasquez said.
Nina Velasquez, a nurse of 13 years, works in South Jersey where COVID cases are up again. The state has seen infections increase 124% over the last month. It’s happening in much of the northeast.
“It’s terrible. I remember driving to work, praying, dear God, please help me to be the best nurse that I can be today with the little bit of time that I have. I’m being pulled 8,000 different ways,” Velasquez said.
The emotional toll of the pandemic has been especially challenging.
“I’ve seen more deaths in the last two years than in my entire career from being a nurse. So it’s heartbreaking,” Veronica Marshall said.
Veronica Marshall, a nurse for 24 years, says it’s time they get the support and recognition they deserve. She is organizing the National Nurses March taking place Thursday at the White House.
“Our voices, we need to be heard,” Veronica said.
Her organization wants legislation to ensure fair realistic wages, safe staffing nurse to patient ratios, and protections against violence.
“We’re really hoping to really make a little noise,” Velasquez said.
Nina plans to travel to Washington D.C. for the march to help send lawmakers a message.
“They’re going to see how this isn’t just one nurse complaint and isn’t just one hospital complaining. This is nurses coming here from all over the United States, coming together because we are all going through the same thing,” Nina said.
Veronica says nurses from all over the country are expected at the march that starts Thursday morning at the White House.