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Hospitals in metro areas fear of healthcare workers shortage amid the Omicron wave

Omaha, NE – As more and more people are getting infected with the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus lately, hospitals started to feel the pressure of new Covid-19 patients and the trend is not going to slow anytime soon, at least according to experts.

However, a relieving factor with Omicron is that majority of the cases will probably only develop mild symptoms which at some point can put lower pressure on the hospitals.

But hospitals fear of another, even bigger problem – staffing shortage. Although the staffing shortage with the previous Covid-19 waves was because of the very high number of hospitalizations, now hospitals may face staffing shortages because of the high infection rate among healthcare workers.

“I have a lot of sleepless nights wondering what’s going to be the next, you know, when’s the other shoe gonna drop?” said Marty Fattig, CEO of Nemaha County Hospital in Auburn.

Some Nebraska hospitals are running thin with staff despite the new CDC isolation guidelines.

“Medical resource collapse is always in the back of our heads,” said Dr. Josue Gutierrez with Saline Medical Specialties in Crete.

Nebraska Medicine says 510 staff members are out Friday, either because they have COVID-19 in their household, they’re waiting on a test, or they’re sick with something else. That’s up from about 300 at the beginning of the week.

The vaccination rate among Nebraska Medicine staff is around 97%. That said, majority of the infected healthcare workers only have mild symptoms and mild Covid-19 condition.

However, the staffing shortage problem might be bigger in the rural areas. One of the hospitals that fears of staffing shortage is Nemaha County Hospital that has about 100 workers which is way less compared to the thousands of healthcare workers in bigger hospitals.

“A loss of one person or two people can really make a huge difference in the way we’re able to serve patients,” Fattig said.

The vaccination rate among the hospital staff is around 93% which is considered great. At this point, the hospital only has one Covid-19 positive employee, but they are running short for 15 people.

“Will someone quit tomorrow and make us make it so critical that we have trouble providing care?” asked Fattig, who said a cluster of cases among staff could mean temporarily halting outpatient care.

Even though they have available beds, they don’t have adequate people to treat patients in those beds. According to Gutierrez, it’s just a matter of time when the outbreak will be seen in the hospital.

He said his employees are being extra vigilant in public — and he asks the same of you.

“It’s even more important for us to truly be healthy, so we can take care of our community,” Gutierrez said.

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