NEW YORK - For National Nurses Week, a community health center which focuses on the LGBTQ+ community is raising awareness about the nursing shortage and need for more staff.
CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis explains what ripple effects it is causing for patients.
"I was very focused on my transition. I had to become myself," said Joanna Rivera.
For Rivera, Callen-Lorde was the first health care facility she felt welcome and able to do that.
"It was the first place where I was able to get on hormones, legally, safely," Rivera said. "It's where I was able to get treated like a human being in a medical environment."
Callen-Lorde is a nonprofit that specializes in LGBTQ+ affirming health care, regardless of ability to pay.
Rivera has been a patient at Callen-Lorde for more than a decade, and grateful for the staff.
"The nurses at Callen-Lorde have always been absolutely wonderful," Rivera said.
And they're in great need for more nurses, down about 20% across its three New York City locations.
"People are leaving for just things as simple as pandemic stress, and they're leaving for higher paychecks," said Lara Comstock, managing director of nursing at Callen-Lorde. "We don't have the deep pockets that the for-profit places tend to have. We do have amazing benefits... which does kind of compensate for that."
Right now, the wait time for a new patient is about two and a half months but getting more staff would mean getting patients in sooner.
"We need to hire people within our community or are well-versed at treating people in our community, and so that narrows down the pool even more," said nursing coordinator Christopher Ruiz.
Ruiz loves serving the community he's a part of, and encourages people to apply to Callen-Lorde - or just look to become a nurse - as across the board, more are needed.
"There's burnout among nurses. There's also a lot of nurses that are probably aging out of nursing, right? So we need to replace these numbers, and if we can't replace these people, we're going to be in a really big crisis," Ruiz said.
Callen-Lorde has job openings beyond just nursing. For more information, CLICK HERE.
for more features.