Omicron Surges Overwhelm Staff at North Texas Hospitals

Bed in hallway. The concept of working stressful environment
Inside hospital. | Image from sudok1

As cases of the Omicron variant continue to rise across North Texas, hospital staff have become overwhelmed by the number of patients. According to Fox 4, cases began to go up again on Friday, January 14.

At JPS Hospital, 49 respiratory therapists and traveling nurses showed up on January 14 to help handle the surge in cases. Across all of the North Texas region, around one thousand travel nurses are arriving to assist hospitals, Fox 4 reported. Statewide, 4,000 extra healthcare workers are being sent to help overwhelmed hospital staff.

One major challenge facing hospitals in Texas and the country is COVID-negative patients getting the virus while in the hospital.

According to Fox 4, despite recent surges, pediatric cases in North Texas have slightly declined. On Wednesday, January 12, Cook Children’s reported 69 COVID cases. On January 14, the number had dropped to 42.

The Chief Nursing Officer at Cook Children’s, Cheryl Petersen, told Fox 4 it could be a few weeks before cases peak.

“I hope we don’t grow those numbers even higher for COVID,” Petersen said. “What I hear from the epidemiologist is that we will not peak for three to four weeks, so if that holds true, then unfortunately I come back to you and tell you we have a higher number.”

Despite recent help with staffing, North Texas hospitals continue to be overwhelmed by the growing number of cases and patients, Fox 4 reported.

One ER nurse, Elda Ramirez, told Fox, “They are coming through the ambulance, and then coming through the door. We can’t stop them and say the doors are closed because of legal reasons. We can’t stop them even though there’s no room.”

The San Antonio area recently received 400 healthcare workers, but a group of lawmakers sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott to ask for more.

According to Leah Bennett, an ER traveling nurse, staff shortages are not just in COVID units.

“The ICUs are very busy to begin with, so if you pair that with COVID patients, an influx of often critical patients, and sometimes you find shortages in all ICUs, not just COVID,” Bennett said. “These nurses are being pulled from different areas to take care of these critical patients.”

Parkland Hospital in Dallas has received extra staffing through the state but is asking for more help. Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, told Fox 4 the state is hopeful they can keep providing healthcare workers.

“We want to be realistic about this, but we think we can get the staff continuing to come into Texas,” Van Deusen said. “There are certainly people out there who are available, and we want to make sure we can get them here as quickly as possible.”

According to Texas Nurses Association Board Member Mary Vitullo, the need for help has led current healthcare workers to feel exhausted.

Vitullo told Fox, “We are kind of facing a lot of burnout, as a lot of nurses have been at this for over 20 months now.”

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