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The 'parallel pandemic': COVID's toll on hospital workers

Posted at 7:28 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 15:27:33-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Spiking COVID-19 numbers are again pushing the limits of Colorado hospitals. “We are definitely surging again,” said UCHealth Memorial, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Mark Mayes.

Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment illustrates the ups and downs of COVID infection trends since the start of the pandemic. The most recent upswing shows infections at a rate comparable to numbers during the first peak back in April of 2020.

CDPHE Sept 2021 COVID Data
Data shows COVID numbers are again rising in Colorado

Hospitalization numbers tracked by UCHealth show a similar trend. Back during the April 2020 surge, the hospital system peaked with 263 patients. The number of COVID patients just rose to 263 again, at the start of September 2021.

UCHealth COVID Hospitalization Data September 2021
UCHealth data shows COVID hospitalizations rising

“The big difference now is that there is something out there that could prevent these hospitalizations," said Mayes. He is referring to vaccinations.

Current cases are driven by the Delta variant of COVID-19. "90% of the patients that come to our hospital for a COVID illness are unvaccinated,” said Mayes, “It makes you question what our society is doing."

UCHealth COVID-19 patient vaccination status data
UCHealth COVID-19 patient vaccination status data September 2021

Medical teams have learned how to better treat people with severe cases of COViD-19. Yet, it still requires intensive physical and emotional effort. "COVID has accelerated the parallel pandemic of psychological distress in healthcare professionals." said Dr. Marc Moss with University of Colorado School of Medicine-Anschutz. He is a pulmonary and critical care physician who teaches and treats patients.

He said a recent study shows one out of three medical professionals who work on COVID teams have considered leaving their job. He added, most stay and push on with a strong desire to help people who are suffering. "We will continue to provide excellent care to our patients though many healthcare workers are simply exhausted," He strongly encouraged more people to get vaccinated.