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Nursing students, teachers to fill gaps at UAB Hospital

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Short of staff as COVID-19 cases increase rapidly, UAB Hospital is bringing in more than 120 students and faulty members from the University of Alabama at Birmingham nursing school to help care for patients sickened by the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Wednesday.

The hospital, which already has enlisted retired nurses to assist with care, will use faculty members and graduate students, all licensed registered nurses, to fill out patient care teams. Undergraduate students will serve as technicians and assist with vaccine distribution, the hospital said in a statement.

Almost 50 of the new workers are faculty members, while more than 70 are nursing students. The program is meant to assist nurses, not replace them, the hospital said.

Statistics compiled by show the state on Wednesday added more than 4,100 new cases of COVID-19, and the virus has killed almost 4,200 people statewide. The Alabama Hospital Association said staffing shortages have worsened as cases increase, partly because seriously ill COVID-19 patients require extra care.

While COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, it can be deadly for people who have other serious health problems.

Health care workers and a few others including elderly veterans have begun receiving vaccines to guard against the illness, but health officials say most members of the general public won’t begin receiving vaccinations for weeks.

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