'Our staffing budget did not account for this': Fayetteville COVID-19 vaccination clinics overwhelm hospital resources

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Local hospitals like Cape Fear Valley are pivoting to vaccinate the public as quickly as they can. They're pulling healthcare professionals off their day-to-day jobs to make it happen and it's straining resources.

"Our staffing budget did not account for this pandemic and the ongoing effects that is has," said Chris Tart, vice president of professional services at Cape Fear Valley.

He is one of the hundreds of heroes working within these walls who oversees logistics that help keep hospital operations running. Over the last year, record COVID-19 cases pushed hospital officials to their limit. Now that there's a vaccine it's straining the workforce even more.

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"There's still our normal work to be done. A lot of the nurses we're pulling are either staff nurses who work extra shifts. Or we're pulling administrative nurses who are unable to focus on normal jobs," said Tart.

Here's an example: Over the last nine weeks Cape Fear Valley has vaccinated nearly 45,000 people at its five vaccination clinics across the Sandhills. Last week the hospital took aim at vaccination disparities opened a clinic inside E.E. Smith High School, which is in the heart of a historically African American community.

According to Tart, during the two-day clinic, the hospital pulled about 45 staffers from their jobs to work at the clinic. Cumberland County provided a couple dozen school nurses to support operations.

"All together there was at least 70 to 75 people working that clinic. In two days, we vaccinated more than 1,200 individuals," said Tart.

He said the hospital is now using nursing students from Fayetteville State University and Fayetteville Tech Community College to offset operations and that's urging the public to continue following the 3 W's to ease the burden.

"It's a hard struggle for all of us, myself included because it's a lot longer hours, even less time with your family as you try to vaccinate the public," said Tart.

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