AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As more people are hospitalized in Amarillo with COVID-19, staffing issues are causing further strain.

Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System, said major staff challenges mean more patients are left waiting.

“Some days we have upwards of 25 people holding our emergency room waiting for beds,” Dr. Weis said on Wednesday. “I know today we have 17 people out in the region waiting to be transferred into a higher level of care, but we certainly can’t accept it because of our staffing limitations.”

According to Dr. Weis, Northwest had 32 staff in quarantine on Wednesday. Meanwhile, BSA Health System’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Lamanteer, said their hospital had 33 staff members in quarantine.

“About a third of those are vaccinated and most of those who are quarantined who’ve been reinfected and previously vaccinated, were vaccinated back in the original timeframe when we had vaccines available December of 2020, January of 21,” Dr. Lamanteer noted. “And really, it’s in that timeframe where a booster is required.”

Dr. Lamanteer also said 18 patients were held in BSA’s ER Wednesday morning, as there were no staffed beds available.

“With increasing pressures from the smaller facilities that are in our Panhandle that need to transfer us, patients that we want to accept that we’ve been accepting,” said Dr. Lamanteer. “But there’s only so much we can do when our beds are full and our staffing limitations are taxed. And that’s the point that we’re at.”

Dr. Lamanteer said the State of Texas agreed to let nurses allocated from the Panhandle Regional Advisory Council stay on their assignments in Amarillo as more COVID patients were admitted in the past couple of weeks.

“Without those staff that we hired as travelers independently and those supplied by the state and the RAC, we would be having a lot of difficulty right now covering all of these patients,” he said.

Both hospitals are continuing to look for staffing solutions, but Dr. Weis said many RAC nurses have already been demobilized.

“If you’re coming to the hospital, don’t expect a rapid turnaround,” said Dr. Weis. “You may be holding for a while as you try to take care of your needs. But so that’s why the concern is any further surge is even going to put us further behind the eight ball in that sense.”

Dr. Weis said concerning this upward trend in COVID cases and hospitalizations, they are still waiting to see the final effects of Thanksgiving, likely within the next week or so.

“We don’t know how that’s going to affect us and then we’re facing Christmas,” Dr. Weis continued. “So, a lot of potentially ominous circumstances coming up that could really raise these numbers even higher.”