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‘Our staff is exhausted.’ Riverside County healthcare workers brace for next COVID-19 surge

EISENHOWER COVID 7 07162020
Image: Eisenhower Health

The last week of 2020 has marked a grim milestone once again in the coronavirus pandemic, as new records are set in Riverside County hospitalizations and ICU admissions. On Monday hospitalizations slightly dipped to 1,367, down from Sunday, which was highest day of hospitalizations recorded throughout the course of the pandemic. That number came to be 1,382 hospitalizations.

Monday's ICU capacity, however, peaked at 282, making it the single highest day of ICU capacity numbers in the county thus far.

County healthcare workers have continuously warned that there could be a surge on top of a surge now that hospitals are experiencing the aftermath of Thanksgiving. The county advised against meeting with family or friends outside of a person's immediate household on Christmas, in order to prevent further transmission of the virus.

"I think that what really is important right now is, not only is the community really tired of adhering to all the things that the pandemic has asked of us, but our frontline healthcare workers and doctors are also very, very tired," said Desert Regional Medical Center Chief Quality Officer, Christine Langenwalter, BSN.

"Our staff is exhausted and it is a little disheartening when we see what goes on out in the public. We’re trying just as hard as we can to take care of people," said Eisenhower Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alan Williamson.

Local hospitals are now preparing for an additional surge in January, as numbers continue on an upward trend.

"I think you’re going to be looking into numbers going well into January. Even though the stay-at-home order was issued by the governor’s office, that seems to have done little to slow down the big jumps that we’re seeing," said Riverside County Department of Public Health spokesperson, Jose Arballo.

Eisenhower Health and Desert Care Network officials told News Channel 3 they are constantly reviewing surge plans. In some cases, they continue to postpone elective surgeries.

"There are several same day admits that we’re doing and yes, most elective cases are being put off until after the holidays to make sure that we have the bed capacity," said Langenwalter.

"This again contributes to the staffing needs so we really can’t be using staff in the operating room and the recovery room that we could potentially repurpose for use elsewhere in the hospital," said Dr. Williamson.

Both hospitals continue to seek outside staffing help.

As New Year's Eve approaches, healthcare workers urged people to stay at home to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

"Now is not the time to catch COVID. You don’t want to be the last person to catch COVID," said Dr. Williamson.

"If you’re not feeling well and if you’re not sure, stay home. Go get a COVID test. Make sure you aren’t positive for COVID and that you aren't out spreading it," said Langenwalter.

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.

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