Sarah Place often ends her workday at American Family Children’s Hospital in tears.

As a pediatric float nurse, she is assigned to fill positions within units that are short-staffed. Lately, she’s found herself in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where she said nurses have been “run ragged” trying to care for the hospital’s youngest and most at-risk patients.

NICU nurse Courtney Younkle said the unit — which cares for premature newborns or babies with complex medical conditions — can be short four to six NICU nurses in a shift. At times, she said, the hospital has even had to turn away new admissions to the NICU due to the lack of nurses.

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