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EXCLUSIVE: Omaha Nurse makes transition from working the frontlines to staffing them

'My role in it is a voice for our staff'
Posted at 6:49 PM, Mar 08, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It's a full-circle story: Bo Vanis has been working as an internal travel nurse for CHI Health since 2019. At the pandemic's start, he was sent to CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island during Nebraska's first COVID-19 surge.

"My lowest point of COVID was when I was in the ER. We sometimes had to take symptomatic patients that were showing symptoms of COVID to our COVID area and even if they weren't necessarily positive. We still treated them as being positive out of precaution and so I think that really amped up their fear," Vanis said.

He's far from the only nurse that hit a "low point."

"Stress of the pandemic definitely caused nurse-shift to other professions. I know of a nurse who went into banking from being a stroke coordinator," Vanis said.

Facing safety concerns, nurses had to think differently about how they provided care. That caused disarray.

"Families would get upset and we had to think differently to really address their concerns over the phone. And so it brought turmoil to our staff. Just because they weren't able to provide the care they learned in school and you practice on a daily non-pandemic day," Vanis said.

Now, he faces the question of how to fill hundreds of job openings for roles like nurses and certified nursing assistants.

"We had the Baby Boomer population. They're all starting to retire now and it's leaving a huge gap in our medical healthcare staffing. That is essentially a band-aid," Vanis said.

It's a question he's aiming to answer in his role as CHI Health's Market Manager of Staffing. Working on initiatives to bring in more workers such as paying for training and education reimbursement.

"My role in it is a voice for our staff. I really try to stay connected on the floor," Vanis said.

Call him a connector in a chain that's healing humanity.

"Being able to lend your hand and your expertise to your fellow human is really very important," Vanis said.

There are currently 450 nurse openings and 125 certified nursing assistant openings in the Omaha metro area. That includes full and part-time positions. This Friday, there's a hiring fair at Immanuel from 12-7 p.m.

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