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The relentless COVID-19 pandemic has intensified America's nursing shortage. Now, Kentucky nurses who work in schools, long-term care facilities, hospices, and hospitals are being lured away. 

Hospitals and other states are offering up to four times Kentucky's hourly wage for nurses. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with the CEO of the Kentucky Nurses Association, Delanor Manson, about burnout from dealing with dying COVID patients, verbal attacks for asking people to wear a mask or get vaccinated, and possible solutions to the nursing shortage in the Bluegrass State. 

Manson: States like California, Texas and New York have an exponential nursing shortage. And they have retained travel nurse agencies to go out and find nurses to come to their states. Because Kentucky does not have the exponential nursing shortage that a lot of other states have, we are prime candidates for these travel nurse agencies. So, they are coming to Kentucky to poach our nurses to send them to other states. And they're poaching our nurses with high dollars for hourly pay, as well as large bonuses. 

Rhonda J. Miller

With Mother's Day approaching this weekend, we're highlighting a mother and daughter who have a close relationship that's both personal and professional.

Amber Givens, 38, and her mom, Julie Horton, 57, work together in the mother-baby unit at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with them on a park bench near the hospital entrance on their way to begin their regular 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. overnight shift. 

Givens lives in Central City and went into nursing four years ago as her second career. Horton lives in Lewisburg and has been a nurse for more than 30 years. 

Mark Cornelison

Dr. Kirk Tucker, chief clinical officer of Adena Health Systems in Chillicothe, Ohio, said a week before Thanksgiving that the health system’s three hospitals in southern Ohio were bombarded with coronavirus patients. But it isn’t just the patients testing positive. The virus has also sickened 65 of his fellow caregivers.

Recently, Tucker said, a doctor there in his 60s tested positive for COVID-19 and died the same day of a sudden cardiac event.

“This physician, to my knowledge, did not feel bad,” Tucker said. “As a matter of fact, I saw him the day that this happened.” Tucker said one of the many dangerous things about COVID-19 is that the virus is prothrombotic, meaning it can cause blood clots.

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Nurses working in Indiana will now be able to practice in Kentucky without holding a duplicate license. That’s thanks to a new law signed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb last week.

Indiana joins what’s known as a nurse licensure compact shared by 31 other states. In order to practice in a compact-member state, nurses have to successfully complete the application for the multi-state license, undergo a federal background check and complete related tests. Nurses will still have to hold a valid license from their resident state in order to practice across state lines.

The casualty numbers of the Civil War were staggering for both the Union and the Confederacy. They would have been much higher without the thousands of women who volunteered as nurses in hospitals and homes.