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Behavioral health nursing took a hit during the pandemic. Now Valleywise has a plan to restaff

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 11:01am
Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 11:24am

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Valleywise Health Medical Center
Al Macias/KJZZ
Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix.

Nursing was a difficult profession before the pandemic hit. But wave after wave of COVID-19 patients, layers of PPE and the refusal of so many to get vaccinated have seen waves of nurses retire, quit and otherwise leave the profession.

One of the areas that has been hardest hit is behavioral health, where nurses have had to deal with all of the realities of COVID and also treat patients who aren’t necessarily healthy enough to want to accept treatment.

Valleywise Health, the safety-net hospital here in Maricopa County, is considered to provide the best care in the Valley to people with serious mental illness. But increasingly, even those petitioned by the court to receive inpatient treatment have to go elsewhere for care as the hospital deals with a shortage of behavioral health nurses.

Martha Steiner is the vice president of behavioral health nursing and clinical care at Valleywise Health. 

The Show spoke with her to learn about the staffing challenges.

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