CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The nation’s hospitals are grappling with a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations all while dealing with staffing shortages. Some Kansas City-area hospitals are seeking recently retired nurses and other employees to remedy the issue.
As of Sunday, 142,388 people with the virus were hospitalized nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Hospitalizations have steadily increased since late December, doubling in the last three weeks, as omicron quickly overtook delta as the dominant version of the virus in the United States.
Hospitals say there aren’t enough nurses to handle bedside care.
“In many cases, nurses are being pulled in so many directions,” said Cindy Samuelson with the Kansas Hospital Association “Any kind of flexibility we could look to find to make sure we can have nurses doing the patient care at the bedside so we can care for as many patients as possible is essential.”
On Monday, University Health in Kansas City, Missouri, said 225 of its employees were out sick. At Children’s Mercy Hospital, 250 employees were home isolating on Monday due to positive COVID-19 tests. As a result, the hospital asked retired pediatric nurses and respiratory therapists to “provide support” at this time.
A similar issue is playing out at nearly every hospital across the country. Hospitals have cited omicron for staffing shortages along with seasonal illnesses like the flu and an uptick in other viruses.