FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – With the COVID-19 pandemic surging, hospitals in the Central Valley continue to feel the strain from staffing issues.
Kaweah Health says the omicron variant is not only impacting its healthcare workers but they’re also seeing a spike in COVID hospitalizations.
Community Regional Medical Center reports more than 220 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 200 at Kaweah Health.
“Where omicron is really impacting us is in our healthcare workforce, so as of yesterday we had 205 employees that were positive for COVID-19,” says Kaweah Health CEO Gary Herbst.
Those employees include nurses, pharmacists, dietary workers, just to name a few.
Close to 75% of the infected employees are fully vaccinated and supervisors are left trying to fill the void.
“We’ve had to hire many travelers, contract employees not just nurses, but really all across all different clinical positions,” says Herbst.
He says the hospital is spending a lot of money offering staff overtime and bonuses and on top of that, it’s also caused the hospital to postpone certain surgeries.
“We normally have been running 10-12 operating rooms every day, and the other day we had to close down to six because we didn’t have the staff to provide that surgery,” says Herbst.
He says they haven’t had to shut down any services and their emergency department continues to be very busy.
“The entire hospital we’re running more than 100% occupancy, so pretty much every hospital in the bed is full, it does require times that a nurse takes an extra patient or two,” says Herbst.
Doctors at Valley Children’s Hospital report that kids are still being hospitalized for COVID, but the good news is that they’re seeing more kids getting vaccinated.
“People are responding and getting their booster and getting their younger children vaccinated and getting those second doses,” says Karen Dahl, a physician at Valley Children’s.
Like Kaweah Health, Valley Children’s is also feeling the strain with personnel.
“So, we’re still running operations as we normally would, but we are still impacted by the omicron variant in our staff,” says Dr. Dahl.
Valley Children’s also says morale in personnel is down and healthcare workers are having to work overtime to treat patients.