Hospitals Overwhelmed: Exhausted Staffs, Surging COVID-19 Cases Push Nation’s Limits

November 3, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Recruitment & Volunteers

Last modified November 4, 2020

As the United States adds a new coronavirus case every second, hospitals across the country are overwhelmed with the soaring number of critically ill Americans. According to this article from USA Today, the biggest concern of hospital managers is the depleted and exhausted staff needed to care for those who need life-sustaining treatment.  

The head of the Utah Hospital Association has warned the situation is getting so dire that hospitals might soon need to ration care. Hospitals in North and South Dakota are seeking staff reinforcements to care for patients in already crowded intensive care units. And in Wisconsin, hospitals are opening makeshift ICU wings even as they desperately look for nurses and other clinicians to staff the facilities. “We can keep converting ICU space,” said Jeffrey Pothof, an emergency room doctor in Madison, Wisconsin. “But the constraint will be the staffing … that’s the thing that worries us the most right now.”

The worsening outbreak, caused by inconsistent mask wearing and social distancing, means hospitals need more doctors, nurses, and therapists to fill shifts. Not only do hospitals need extra workers to handle the surge, but they also need to replace shifts when their own staffers are sick or quarantined. But with the virus growing in so many states at the same time, hospitals nationwide are using the same limited supply of travel nurses, therapists, and other clinicians who sign contracts to fill shifts on a temporary basis.

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