Couple Struggles With Nursing Shortage

SPOKANE — It’s something every expectant parent fears, not being able to bring your newborn baby home from the hospital. A fear that is reality for Steven and Hollie Tucker. Its been four months and they have yet to take their baby home from the hospital.

The Tucker’s baby boy will need around the clock nursing care when he comes home from the hospital and in-home care is hard to come by.

There are four pages of ads for healthcare professionals in the Spokesman Review, most of them for RN’s and LPN’s, exactly what the Tucker’s need to bring their son home.

Expecting parents spend months getting their baby’s room ready for the new born’s first day at home.

“He was born April 21st,” said Steven Tucker about his newborn baby.

His son, Baby Steven, hasn’t seen his nursery yet because of a heart condition. Instead a Sacred Heart hospital room has been his home since the beginning of his young life.

“He has had four surgeries, he has open heart surgery, placation surgery, G-tube surgery for a feeding tube, and trachea surgery to help him breath,” listed Steven.

Steven and Hollie make the drive from Coeur d’Alene to Spokane every day, each time they arrive hoping they will get to bring him home.

“I get up in the morning and come here and do whatever I have to do,” said Hollie.

What’s keeping the Tuckers from bringing Baby Steven home is a shortage of nurses, specifically nurses who want to do in-home care.

Charlene Weaver at American Home Care has been working for a month to get Baby Steven the home nursing he needs. In that month she has received few responses to her ad.

“The hours are not always easy, you have to work some weekends, so there are some down sides to that, but the pay is an issue as well,” said Weaver.

For now the Tuckers will take care of their son from a hospital room, converted into a baby’s room. They say they pray and hope.

“That’s very frustrating to know that you have prepared to try and do as much as you personally can and to know that you are going to be stuck because there is no one out there to help,” said Steven.

In-home nurses can make anywhere from $5 to $20 less an hour than hospital nurses.

There are benefits to in-home nursing including flexible hours and more time in patient care.

In Baby Steven’s case, his doctors want him to have 24 hour care and that could require up to eight nurses on his case alone. So far the agency has only found one nurse interested in the job.