America's hospitals are filling up to the point near capacity amid a particularly problematic cold and flu season, The Washington Post reported.
It is not just the variants of COVID-19, but also respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), putting the strain on already stressed healthcare facilities struggling to staff up.
"This is not just an issue; this is a crisis," Anne Klibanski, president and CEO of Mass General Brigham in Boston, told The Post. "We are caring for patients in the hallways of our emergency departments. There is a huge capacity crisis, and it's becoming more and more impossible to take care of patients correctly and provide the best care that we all need to be providing."
Working in an emergency room is stressful enough, but staffing shortages elsewhere have led those who had been working in emergency rooms to move out to less stressful environment.
"Many people don't want to work in hospitals," Klibanski told The Post. "There are other [less stressful] settings where they can work."
Also, many in the industry have left their jobs after COVID-19 pandemic burnout, according to the report.
It will only get worse, according to the American Medical Association, which found 1 in 5 doctors plan on leaving the industry within the next two years.
"When COVID first hit, there would be all of these parades past our hospital where people would call health care workers heroes," Yale New Haven Health Hospital Chief Thomas Balcezak told The Post. "Now, we're seeing nurses who show up in scrubs try to sign up for apartments being turned down because [management companies] don't want people living there who work in health care."
There is even violence being threatened on health care workers now as 44% of nurses reported physical violence and 68% say they have been verbally abused by patients since the pandemic began, according to the American Hospital Association.
"I've seen nurses and physicians be the victims of both physical and verbal violence," American College of Emergency Physicians' Christopher Kang told The Post. "It shouldn't be a surprise when they leave a field where they are no longer respected."
Understaffed hospitals, like renowned Boston Children's Hospital, have had to postpone elective surgery in November. Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore reopened triage tents that were often used during the height of the COVID pandemic.
There is no longer downtime for health care workers, according to Mass General Brigham's Klibanski.
"Everything has changed, and now all those issues at the forefront are only getting more exacerbated over time," Klibanski said.
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