Dr. Brian Resler, an ER doctor in San Francisco, recently polled a group of clinicians on a midnight shift. “We all stated if we could go back, we would choose a different career,” said Resler, who declined to identify his hospital.
Resler and his colleagues agree, notwithstanding a recent drop in Covid-19 cases in California due to the extremely contagious Omicron strain. The Omicron wave has crested and many portions of the US are firmly on its downslope.
While some experts believe the worst of the epidemic is behind, the virus’s ripple effects, such as individuals seeking care for other illnesses, continue to strain the US healthcare system and its providers.
Most people went into healthcare to help people and make a difference, but I think it’s broken now, says Resler, 36, an emergency physician for seven years.
According to the New York Times, the daily average of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations has plummeted by 49% and 16% in the last two weeks.
Covid’s repercussions have continued to stress the US healthcare system and its providers. Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington reported that despite these good improvements, 80 percent of US hospitals were under “high or extreme stress” in the last week of January, implying Covid-19 was responsible for over 10% of hospitalizations.
In California, 69 percent of hospitals were under significant stress, meaning Covid-19 caused over 20% of hospitalizations.
As a result of the enormous number of illnesses, there will still be a lot of sick people, said Resler, who revealed that most of the Covid-19 patients hospitalized were unvaccinated.
Earlier in the epidemic, many people were scared or unable to seek medical care due to the viral threat. Patients are now catching up, Resler says.
“That overwhelms the system and creates irate patients. “When you are sick and seeking care, it is far different than reading about long wait times and an overburdened emergency department,” he said.
In Missouri, the second-worst state for hospitalizations, 79% of hospitals are overburdened. According to Erik Frederick, the hospital’s chief administrative officer, approximately 28% of Covid-19 patients are admitted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, in the state’s southwest.
Earlier in the pandemic, many people put off medical care, causing hospital delays. Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
“Those patients require the same level of resources, in terms of isolation, personal protective equipment, and human resources,” Frederick added.
Because the Omicron form is so virulent, many hospital employees test positive and must be quarantined. As a result, hospitals must offer incentives to staff to pick up more shifts and hire nurses from outside agencies, Frederick says.
“It strains the healthcare system,” Frederick added.
The Omicron variety has also strained children’s hospitals. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports a 20% spike in kid Covid-19 cases in two weeks in January.
The house supervisor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio sends out alerts about available beds in specific units every few hours.
We have to make difficult choices when those numbers go low, says Dr Rachel Pearson, assistant professor of pediatrics and medical humanities at UT Health San Antonio. “That leaves kids in the [emergency department] who I would rather be with my hospital pediatrics team.”
The hospital may have to stop accepting transfers from smaller hospitals or clinics or have those patients wait in the ER.
“We are pushed. “I know sometimes rural doctors are on the phone, after call, after call, trying to find a hospital with a higher quality of care that can accept their sick patient,” said Pearson.
Hospitals are understaffed due to coronavirus illnesses, adding to the system’s stress. Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Pearson is pleased by the FDA’s recent approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children under five.
He is positive about the pandemic’s prospects, despite seeing patients from rural places with low vaccination rates.
“I’m excited about the figures, but most of my optimism comes from my team,” he remarked.
Resler is pessimistic. His early interest in emergency medicine stemmed from the satisfying nature of caring for individuals who didn’t have a pulse. They now talk about the thank you to [expletive] you ratio, with the latter routinely outweighing the former.
“I spend most of my day apologizing,” Resler remarked. We used to have similar concerns, but it has grown so bad that when I visit a new patient, I am surprised when they are not upset.
To know more about the latest news, check out our website by clicking here.