Shaheen meets with Upper Valley health care workers

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:02 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:11 PM EST
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CLAREMONT, N.H. (WCAX) - New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited with Upper Valley health care workers Tuesday to discuss ongoing staffing issues caused by the pandemic.

Shaheen traveled to Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont to share two important messages -- gratitude to the front line workers for their continued efforts, and to push more Granite State residents to get vaccinated.”

“I think none of us expected to be here two years in,” said Angelica Sindelar, an infection control practitioner at the hospital.

She says they have been at capacity for two months, which leaves overworked health care employees looking for a break. “We are a family and we work together like a family. We pull together like a team. People work extra shifts.”

Health care officials say since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, 18% of their workforce has left the field. Those numbers have been on the decline but the pandemic has exacerbated the shortage and finding new staff has been difficult. “I think it’s not only attracting them into health care but then making the educational process more affordable,” said Dr. Juliann Barrett, the hospital’s medical staff president.

Senator Shaheen listened to those concerns and others and says priorities at the federal level need to be focused on making sure hospitals have the resources they need now and building the workforce of tomorrow. “Longer term, we have got to look at training. We’ve got to look at how we can incentivize people in the health care field. And again, that’s a lot about making those investments,” she said.

In the meantime, these employees say they will continue to come to work, despite at times being overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic. “Yes and no. I feel like I’m always on. But I still go home, I enjoy time with my family, I enjoy time with my kids,” Sindelar said.

And they remind everybody the best way to protect families is to get vaccinated.

New Hampshire has a 68% vaccination rate, however, that does not include boosters. Walk-in sites are available around the state including one in Claremont.

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