The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) has declared code red on understaffing in hospitals throughout Ohio holding a virtual press conference via Zoom Tuesday morning.

The press conference highlighted the ONA's "CODE RED" campaign, which focuses on five strategic areas: staffing levels, working conditions, pipeline, corporate trends and trust and agency.

The campaign's goal is to promote safe staffing ratios and leveraging employees and lawmakers to implement the staffing ratios nurses and patients need.

ONA President Robert Weitzel says around 100,000 registered nurses in the country left the workforce in recent years due to the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and hundreds of thousands more have indicated they may leave the workforce by 2027 due to exhaustion and stress.

"This combined with understaffing by employers across Ohio has exacerbated the patient care crisis in our state," Weitzel said.

Two registered Ohio nurses spoke up on their experiences with the patient care crisis. Catharyne Henderson, a registered nurse at OSU James Cancer Hospital explained exactly why so many nurses are experiencing burnout.

"The workload of course has doubled, if not tripled, which has significantly increased the burnout, the moral injury and the stress accounting for the majority of the staff leaving," Henderson explained.

"Imagine trying to take care of an actively dying patient with a double workload, or imagine a patient with a new cancer diagnosis who is scared and confused, but as a bedside nurse you don't have time to answer all of her questions because your phone keeps ringing, the bed alarm next door is going off and your short ancillary staff and another patient is upset about not receiving a dinner tray. This is everyday reality for nurses at the bedside," Henderson continued.

ONA Chief Interim Officer, Kelly Nedrow says this problem did not happen overnight and COVID-19 is not solely to blame for it, stating that healthcare executives putting profits before patients and worker's safety is also a contributing factor.

"The ONA's Code Red campaign is written by nurses, for nurses with strategic components designed to address these issues and promote positive changes in the nursing profession," Nedrow said.