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Health care workers concerned over hospital staffing levels

ICUs in So Cal expected to reach 107% by Dec. 24
Posted at 5:39 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 12:14:59-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As coronavirus cases increase across the country, there is a concern about staffing in hospitals across Southern California.

Not only are hospitals dealing with patients they typically see during this time of year, COVID-19 patients are adding stress to thinning resources.“If these trends continue, we’re going to have to much more dramatic—arguably drastic—action,” said Governor Gavin Newsom during a news conference on Monday.

Currently, 74 percent of ICU beds are occupied in Southern California. State health officials protect it to be at 107 percent capacity by December 24th.

“I have a guarded concern about the direction that we’re moving in,” said nurse practitioner Samantha Gambles Farr of the rising cases.

Gambles Farr said she is not only worried about staffing numbers, but also the physical and mental health of her colleagues. “The staffing issues have always been something that we've dealt with in the ICU because of the critical acuteness of our patients and the burnout of staff,” she said. ‘In these unprecedented times with COVID in the pandemic, what we're seeing is that nurses are picking up a lot more overtime and shifts.”

Early in the pandemic, the state created the California Health Corps. It asked for those with health care experience to help during the COVID-19 outbreak. Thousands, including retired workers and nursing students, volunteered to help. However, only 900 people are currently ready to be deployed, according to a recent story by the Sacramento Bee.

In New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo has already asked for help from retired health care workers.

“It’s not like we can then call on our colleagues from another state to help us because they’re dealing with the exact same issue,” Gambles Farr said.