January 13, 2023

Shortage of Home Care Nurses Prompts Mom To Go To Nursing School For NICU Baby

Shortage of Home Care Nurses Prompts Mom To Go To Nursing School For NICU Baby

The effects of the nursing shortage aren’t just affecting those in the hospitals. In fact, it goes far beyond that. Patients, especially pediatric patients, that require specialized home care are unable to receive the nursing care needed. As a result, these patients are staying in the hospitals for extended periods of time. 

For example, if a pediatric patient has a tracheostomy and a ventilator they will require 24/7 care. Ideally, the parents will be trained to care for the patient but they will most likely also receive in-home nursing care. Unfortunately, in-home nursing care isn’t always possible due to the ongoing nursing shortage. 

That was exactly what happened to Kadijah Keys of Ohio. After the birth of her twins at 22 weeks and the subsequent death of one, Keys’ life was forever changed.  

When the time came to take home her son, Amir, Keys found there was a shortage of home care nurses in the area and her son stayed hospitalized for seven months waiting for home care. Keys decided that she would do whatever it would take to get her son home. She immediately enrolled in nursing school at Hondros College of Nursing. The program at Hondros is a 15-month program for students that already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Keys, who had a degree in criminal justice, had planned to join the FBI but pivoted in order to care for Amir. 

"I will completely change my career and sacrifice to try to get my baby home because he's relying on me, he did his job,” said Keys. “He has fought. He can't talk but he's saying, ‘Mommy and Daddy, it's your turn now.’”

Keys did eventually find at-home nursing care but it took longer than anyone hoped. 

"He's ready for discharge, but we just can’t find any nurses, so we've been stagnant the last three or four months and he's been ready to come home," said Keys. “Children's has seven different agencies they work with, and they check in with them weekly, and that’s still not a hit. Every week the answer is no.”

“I was just like, 'if nobody else can do it, I can do it and I'm just going to have to try to make it all work,’” Keys said. After graduating in September, she plans to become a NICU nurse and a parent liaison. 

Amir is now 2 and breathes with a tracheostomy and ventilator as a result of a brain injury. “Once I get my degree, I will be able to care for Amir and won’t really have to rely on everybody around me," she said.

When in-home care was finally secured in August, the Keys family left with seven nurses to provide care for Amir. By December, there were only two nurses left. "We're approved for 112 hours a week, but due to the nursing shortage, we currently receive about 60 hours a week," Keys said.

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