SALT LAKE CITY – The surge in COVID-19 cases this summer has caused another strain on Utah hospitals .
The University of Utah Hospital is now full as caregivers try to control the recent surge in patients.
KSL-TV spoke with the hospital's director of medical operations, who said that the return of school-age children, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, going to school for the next several weeks will only make the situation worse.
"The hospital is full, full, full. We have patients waiting in the ER for beds." said Dr. Russell Vinik.
Vinik said they only have a couple of open beds in the intensive care unit.
"We are barely keeping up," he said. "That's very different from how things were in December, January, and February, when we had enough staff to be able to open an accessory ICU and really be able to serve a lot more people."
While hospital counts are still at a lower capacity than when COVID-19 cases peaked six months ago, this spike has been more difficult to manage, he said, because the hospital workforce is stressed and some are straining. going.
Like many employers, hospitals cannot hire all the workers they need.
Last fall, Vinik said the hospital workforce was full of energy, but the ongoing virus has affected caregivers.
"I think it's harder for people to stay in the workforce and have that sense of commitment, when 98 percent of the patients who are caring for our patients could have avoided this by getting vaccinated, and that's a strain." Vinik said.
Utah communities are again aski ng doctors and nurses to fight the virus after they have glimpsed the light at the end of the tunnel.
We were all happy to be the heroes and we put in the extra time, but that's something that can't be sustained for a year and a half.
-Dr. Russell Vinik
"It's been 18 months now," said the doctor, exasperated. "We were all happy to be the heroes and put in the extra time, but that's something you can't sustain for a year and a half."
Looking ahead, Vinik said, "Most of us who follow are very convinced that we will see a significant increase (in cases) after school starts."
Especially with children not wearing masks and vaccination protection limited to those over 12.
"This leads to massive outbreaks in schools, schools close," Vinik said. "Then your parents, who are our employees, will not be able to come to work."
Which is exactly what happened last fall.
"Now, we are faced with the potential for an even smaller workforce, with more cases," said Vinik. "I'm worried that we won't be able to take care of them."