"If you're a nursing school graduate or a medical school graduate, we need you!" It's a mantra that Governor Gavin Newsom has uttered often.
The pleas have been coming from the top down, since the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, urgent calls for nurses to meet the need -- an expected surge of cases in California hospitals.
RELATED: South Bay nurse says fear over her contact with COVID-19 patients caused tow company to refuse service
But the reality of trying to answer the call has been frustrating for RN's like Angela Williams. Layed off from her job in cosmetic surgery, the 29-year-old has a bachelors degree and was president of her 2018 nursing class, but can't find work in a hospital.
"I actually put in over 300 applications in the Bay Area," said Williams. "It's hard being a registered nurse, unemployed during a pandemic. It kind of feels like being a firefighter, the house is on fire and I'm watching Netflix."
#ABC7Now Despite urgent pleas for nurses during #coronaviruspandemic RN’s like Bay Area’s Angela Williams are getting turned down for job after job. “I feel like I’m a firefighter and the fire’s raging right in front of me...and I’m sitting on the couch watching Netflix. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/ysCDUuSo1C— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) April 23, 2020
Williams told us she has wanted to be a nurse since age 12, when she was hospitalized for several weeks after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She said she doesn't remember much, except for the nurses. "They taught me how to take care of myself, comforted me in a difficult time," said Williams. "Their skill was unmatched and they showed love and compassion I had never seen outside of my family. I knew that one day I had to be in a position where I could offer the same."
But John Muir Health and other Bay Area hospitals systems, including Sutter and UC San Francisco, just haven't seen a significant surge in COVID-19 patients.
They did, however, plan for one.
RELATED: 'The surge that never came' leads to pay, shift cuts for some Bay Area front line health workers
UC San Francisco Medical Center is about two-thirds full, with some 245 empty beds by design in case there is a surge.
But with so many empty beds, hospitals just aren't hiring nurses. Right now, it's all about re-deploying.
"We were planning for the very worst. We were planning for the New York scenario," said Michelle Lopes, Senior Vice President, Chief Nurse Executive for John Muir Health. "Early on, we did reach out to retired nurses. We started planning for how do we bring new graduate nurses, and nursing students into our work force, but we've just found we haven't had the need. We've had the resources within our own teams to manage the volume of patients we're seeing."
That said, Lopes encouraged nurses like Williams and current students to stay patient and optimistic about their future job prospects, especially if there is a future surge of novel coronavirus cases, something no one is wishing for.
Still, Williams plans to stay ready if and when she is called.
"I've done extra training since the pandemic started, just to make sure I'm more prepared in case I do get that call to go into a hospital," said Williams. "So it's hard to hear that we're needed, but just can't get hired."
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Live updates about coronavirus outbreak in US, around the world
- Coronavirus data: See how the curve of COVID-19 cases is bending in each Bay Area county
- Everything you need to know about the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic
- Stimulus calculator: How much money should you expect from coronavirus relief bill
- WATCH: ABC7's interactive town hall 'Race and Coronavirus: A Bay Area Conversation'
- What Bay Area tenants need to know about rent payments, eviction amid COVID-19 outbreak
- Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area/
- Coronavirus and the new normal of living in the San Francisco-Bay Area -- COVID-19 Diaries
- Happy hour goes virtual as people try to be sociable while social distancing during COVID-19 crisis
- Coronavirus Outbreak: Here's why you should practice 'social distancing'
- DRONEVIEW7: What the Bay Area looks like during the coronavirus shelter-in-place
- ABC7's drive around San Francisco shows empty streets, businesses shuttered
- Symptoms, prevention, and how to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in the US
- List of stores, companies closing due to coronavirus pandemic
- Canceled late fees, free services available amid COVID-19 crisis
- Here's how you can help during COVID-19 pandemic
- How to maintain learning during school closures
- No masks but here are 100+ products that may help protect you against novel coronavirus germs
- Here's a look at some of history's worst pandemics that have killed millions
- Asian community fighting racism, xenophobia, bigotry as world fights COVID-19