RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — One local nurse is speaking out against staffing conditions in hospitals that are impacting patient care.

Elisabeth Taurino, a registered nurse and acute care nurse practitioner, says she has always wanted to help people and became a nurse to share that passion with others.

“My grandmother made me a stethoscope out of coffee cups, like coffee scoops, and pipe cleaners,” Taurino said.

Over the past 27 years since she first started working, she says the nursing industry has changed by placing the business over patient care, something she never thought would happen to the career field she loves so much. She says when she first started working, hospitals were adequately staffed with patient care techs and housekeeping. Following a COVID-19 outbreak and surges in illnesses like RSV and the flu, she says the demand for nurses is high but people are leaving bedside care like never before. She says nurses are now required to pick up additional tasks like phlebotomy and drawing labs, something that takes their time away from keeping up with patients.

“They end up either rebounding back into the emergency room,” Taurino said. “And then they’re they’re already they’re flooding back into an overburdened system.”

It was just last year when Governor Glenn Youngkin released an executive order to give Virginia hospitals and nursing homes flexibility to increase bed capacity and their staff as they face ongoing “staffing challenges.”

Most recently, nurses across the country continue to walk out on the job and host strikes to voice their concerns and promote change.

Taurino says the issue is much larger than compensation. She hopes hospitals will address cutbacks and shortages before it is too late.

“Is bare minimum staffing okay? If that is you in that bed or your family member or your loved one, is bare minimum okay?” Taurino said. “Or do we need to do better than bare minimum.”