New Orleans EMS Director Leaves Agency Due to Staff Shortage and Pandemic | Local politics
New Orleans’ director of emergency medical services is stepping down after more than three years as its head, a spokesperson said on Friday.
Dr Emily Nichols, 43, has informed her corps of paramedics that she is leaving an agency that has been beset by staff shortages exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Spokesman Jonathan Fourcade said the agency intended to announce his resignation on Monday. He said his departure is expected in the coming weeks.
Details on Nichols’ departure and his future plans were not immediately available. Fourcade said Nichols had not been kicked out.
Employees quit because of stress, pay; on Friday, 21 of the 40 ambulances were in the store
Mayor LaToya Cantrell appointed Nichols to the post of director in May 2018. She completed her undergraduate studies at Princeton University and graduated from Yeshiva University of New York Medical School in 2002, and she performed a residency in Brooklyn and Philadelphia hospitals. She then worked as an emergency physician at Ochsner Health System in the New Orleans area, specializing in pediatric care.
Emergency medical services in New Orleans were already grappling with staff shortages and employee burnout when the pandemic erupted in Louisiana in the spring of 2020. The pandemic quickly led to a spike in 911 calls, and in no time, large numbers of emergency medical technicians and paramedics were either ill or in quarantine.
Hospitals overflowed, leaving long wait times for ambulances to the emergency room. Many ambulances also broke down. And recently, with just nine ambulances available out of a fleet of 40, Nichols decided to send paramedics and paramedics home despite the understaffing, leaving the agency unable to answer some emergency medical calls.
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While the agency relied on help from private ambulance companies, Nichols told WWL TV last month that she didn’t think it was sustainable. She said the long-term response was to increase salaries for emergency medical services, where paramedics earn $ 37,000 a year and paramedics $ 48,000 or more.
“We know it’s tough,” Nichols said. “I don’t think there is a perfect answer when we are in trouble.”
Civil service records recently obtained by WWL show that around 75 doctors had left the agency since the start of 2019. As of September, more than 20 full-time jobs were vacant, out of 156 positions.