Local hospitals facing staffing concerns amid surge in coronavirus cases

Coronavirus

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Quarantined hospital staff members are also contributing to a staffing issue facing our hospitals.

“We’ve got beds, we just don’t have staff to man those beds,” said Northwest Texas Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Weis.

Dr. Weis said they are essentially at capacity in terms of common things, like traumas, and the surge will hit them where they need it most- staffing.

“Our real shortage is nursing staff,” said Dr. Weis. “After we lost a lot of nurses that went traveling, a lot of them have not returned to work yet. I know some of them are back in the community but are not back to work.”

At BSA Hospital, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Lamanteer said they are also seeing staffing deficiencies.

“It’s starting to impact what we do with patient flow. It’s starting to impact what we do with [the] selection of certain patients for intensive care versus a step down intermediate care, and as the number grows, it will continue to do so,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

Dr. Lamanteer said nursing resources across the region are being taxed- especially after the departure of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) state support we had a few months back.

“If we get a large increase beyond the number of patients we have now, we’re going to have difficulty staffing beds to manage those patients,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

All this is also having an effect on current hospital staff.

“I’m very worried about a lot of our staff,” said Dr. Weis. “I mean, we are finding or hearing stories about nurses that are being found in tears saying ‘I can’t do this again.'”

“Our staff is tired. Our staff is concerned that we’re on the uptake of another potential surge,” said Dr. Lamanteer. “By not moving forward with getting vaccinated if you’re an eligible person to get one, that’s imposing on the rest of our community.”

“That’s just the reality of it. It’s not meant to be harsh. It’s not meant to be in any way condescending, but it’s the fact of the matter. We’re urging you to take advantage of the resources that you have available so that we can keep people healthy,” added Dr. Lamanteer.

As for RAC support, both Dr. Weis and Dr. Lamanteer said they have not heard anything from the state about providing that additional support yet.

MyHighPlains.com reached out to the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) and asked if there were any current plans to reinstate the staffing assistance that had been previously available. They have not returned our request for comment at this time.

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