Health care workers face fatigue as they deal with more COVID-19 patients
COVID-19-related hospitalizations are up in New Jersey. There are currently 6,075 COVID patients in New Jersey hospitals, according to state data.
Almost 80 of these patients are at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. At the height of the pandemic, there were 250 patients on ventilators. Now there are only five. But it is up from last month, which is not the direction hospital officials were hoping to see things go.
The surge comes as health care workers are running out of steam and patience.
“What we saw in November was single-digit patients,” says Michele Acito, executive vice president and chief nursing officer. “After the holidays, we increased to 94 patients. Very concerning.”
The health care workers are taking care of more patients now than they have seen since the early days of the pandemic. Acito says her staff is having a hard time.
“Here we go again with our third wave and people are really getting – they’re getting tired, exhausted, working harder, working longer and it’s becoming difficult,” she says.
Too difficult for many who are burned out and not worth the risk for others who left the industry. Health care workers are also getting sick with the Omicron variant, leaving fewer of them to take care of more patients.
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“While you see no sense of urgency in public, we see a tremendous overwhelming in our hospitals,” says Debbie White, president of HPAE, the union representing 13,000 New Jersey medical workers.
White says what her members really want are the resources they need to do their jobs. They also want the public to do their part in slowing the spread.
“Take those measures. Do the things we did in the beginning – masking while indoors, don’t hang out in big crowds, stay safe,” says White. “Do those things we did in the first wave. That’s the only thing that will stop or at least slow the spread.”
Health care workers are also asking for patience as they deal with shortages and larger hospital populations.