Omicron Variant

Hospitals Feel Crush Of Omicron Surge

The problem is the result of more COVID hospitalizations while nurses and other hospital employees struggle with illness-related staffing shortages

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Omicron is fueling a rise in hospitalizations while sickening frontline workers at the same rate.

"We're seeing 10%-20% of our nursing staff not being able to come to work because of illness themselves," said internal medicine physician Dr. David Winter at Baylor University Medical Center.

The impact is being felt in hospital emergency rooms.

At Baylor University Medical Center Thursday morning, dozens of patients were waiting inside the emergency room just to be admitted to a regular hospital bed.

"It's a challenge for us indeed. If you go to the emergency room right now, you may have to wait. In fact, we've got, I think, 56 people down there waiting to be admitted because we have to get our nurses staffed up to get them in a hospital bed. Of 56 patients, only two of those don't have COVID. Most all those are COVID patients," said Winter.

Even though the variant reportedly causes less severe illness, it can still be a dangerous blow to people with underlying health conditions, like diabetes, and the unvaccinated.

The onslaught of COVID patients and not enough people to help them is already proving deadly.

"We're seeing people dying at facilities. If they have a problem that's easily treated, but the staff isn't available at that hospital and all of the other hospitals are full, so there's no availability for that person to transfer and get the care that they need to save their life," said Collin Fannin County Medical Society Vice President Dr. DJ Verret.

Cook Children's in Fort Worth reported on Wednesday that 165 staff members systemwide are out sick or on leave.

Officials say there is no immediate staffing solution.

Baylor University Medical Center is postponing elective surgeries that require overnight stays.

Those who can work, including administrators, are stepping into roles they don't normally take on just to help.

The public can help too.

Doctors are urging everyone to mask up and stay away from large gatherings and stay home if they're sick.

"If you don't get the warning signs, which is severe shortness of breath, chest pressure, confusion, but unable to get out of bed because you're so weak, blue lips, blue fingers or toes, those symptoms would require you to go to the hospital or contact your doctor. Otherwise, just stay home and keep in touch with someone," said Winter.

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