The US Department of Health and Human Services released shocking data, mentioning almost 24% of American hospitals are facing staff shortages, amid the spike in omicron.
Hospitals diverting all resources to tackle the pandemic
Almost 5,000 hospitals reported the data to the HHS, of which nearly 1,200 claimed to have a staff shortage. This is the largest number reported since the start of the pandemic.
The dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, Ashish Jha, spoke to CNN on Sunday, stating rising infections pushed hospitals to the brink of chaos.
Likewise, he mentioned omicron could reduce hospitals’ capacities to treat patients who are suffering from diseases other than COVID.
According to him, many people can flood the hospitals at once, thus consuming the remaining resources and hence straining the health facilities.
Jha noted hospitals are not made to treat COVID patients only, but the current trend is indicating most resources are being consumed by the pandemic, hence neglecting other patients.
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) January 4, 2022
Primary reasons for staff shortages in hospitals include frontline workers either getting infected or pushed into quarantine for their potential contact with COVID patients.
As per the HHS, over 138,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized by Saturday.
To ease the strain on health resources, some hospitals are cutting elective surgeries. For instance, 40 hospitals in New York have been advised not to do nonessential elective operations, due to the declining availability of beds.
Doctors leaving many people to die
The Chief Medical Officer of the University of Kansas, Dr. Steven Stites, also voiced his concerns about the persisting strain in the healthcare system. According to Stites, the virus is not letting staff work, barring COVID treatment.
He made damning comments, saying this is the time doctors let some patients die and save others to make sure they are at least saving some of them.
Noting the state of Kansas is being hit by a “double pandemic,” Stites asserted the delta variant wave after Thanksgiving, followed by the omicron wave, is causing unprecedented problems for the state.
The sudden rise in omicron cases is concerning many Americans, as 39 states reported at least a 50 percent increase in COVID cases last week, compared to the week earlier than that.
This prompted many healthcare providers to prioritize testing of some people to avoid facing the shortage of testing kits.
Reportedly, only people with respiratory illness are being tested, while those having no symptoms are being left untested at many places.
Children not eligible for the vaccine are facing an unprecedented situation, with hospitalization rates in those kids increasing alarmingly.
There are concrete steps we can take now to relieve the critical shortage of hospital staff.
I wrote to CEOs of Ontario's Hospitals and asked them to:
1) Recall all unvaccinated staff (as applicable);
— Roman Baber (@Roman_Baber) January 6, 2022
According to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles data, the positivity rate in children has been 45 percent in January until now, up from 17.5 percent in December.
This rise is reported as children in Los Angeles are turning to in-person classes starting from Tuesday.