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'We are going backwards': Healthcare workers share frustration of COVID hospitalizations

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Posted at 4:58 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 22:43:51-04

TAMPA, Fla. — As COVID hospitalizations remain high, nurses and doctors told ABC Action News they’re overworked and overwhelmed. Burnout is at an all-time high and hospital leaders said thousands of hospitalizations could have been prevented if people had simply gotten vaccinated.

Our healthcare heroes have been on the front lines of an impossible crisis, which is now stretching 18 months.

Theresa Thoman is a critical care nurse at Largo Medical Center who has been helping countless COVID patients.

“Every single day doing the same thing over and over again and you just never think there’s going to be an end,” she explained.

90% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 right now are unvaccinated, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

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US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

“It’s very frustrating the last month or so when everybody thought we were kind of in the clear. Everyone went back to their normal lives but not only are we back to where we were last July, we’re worse than what we were. It’s frustrating that we’re going backwards in some ways,” said Dr. Mark Vila a Pulmonary Critical Care Physician at Largo Medical Center.

Adam Rudd, the CEO of Largo Medical Center said his team is in mental anguish trying to answer the same question over and over: “If somebody dies with COVIDand they were unvaccinated, why?”

The influx of COVID patients is also snatching away resources. Nek Nazary, an ER doctor at Bayonet Point Regional Medical Center said they’re running low on supplies.

“We are in fear of running out of oxygen in our hospital, we are running out of testing kits, we have run out of space already. One in three beds are taken by covid patients. We recently had to add tents out front of our hospital,” he explained.

Hospitals are also on the brink of critical staffing shortages.

“We’re seeing a historic high in our turnover rate. 25% of nurses or one in four have left their positions in the course of the last year,” explained Mary Mayhew, the CEO of the Florida Hospital Association.

Statewide, Florida needs 8,000 more, and experts said the shortage will last long beyond this pandemic.

“It’s a difficult job and now you layer on this unprecedented pandemic, and it has absolutely caused significant mental health and physical exhaustion for healthcare workers,” Mayhew added.

The situation in hospitals is so frustrating that the team at Tampa General Hospital started putting together videos that they say expose the “real and raw” truth of COVID-19.

Dr. Benjamin Sudolcan is one of those featured in the latest “COVID Chronicles” videos.

“We have a lot of unvaccinated patients in our ICU and as they get sicker, all of them ask for any therapy we have to offer. They ask for some things that are not even proven and it’s always striking to me that there was something safe and effective that they could have done weeks before this: gotten vaccinated,” he said.

“It’s frustrating when nobody is listening,” added TGH Dr. Jasmine Patterson.

Healthcare workers worry if vaccinations don’t increase, we’ll see yet another wave of hospitalizations with an even deadlier strain of the virus.