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Nebraska hospital leaders overwhelmed by rapid spread of COVID-19

Hospitals discuss stressors due to rising cases
Posted at 6:19 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 19:19:45-05

It's the "perfect storm" — that's how Nebraska leaders are describing what's happening in the hospitals as rising case counts and hospitalizations are overwhelming resources.

The Nebraska Hospital Association and three of its members admit they are burdened with staffing shortages, limited availability of beds, and physical and emotional exhaustion.

"In my time, I've never seen a staffing situation like it is right now," Great Plains Health North Platte CEO Ivan Mitchell said.

"We have 178 employees out and about 50 of those are nurses, that's about 28 percent of those are out are direct caregivers as a nurse," Methodist and Methodist Women's Hospital President & CEO Josie Abboud said.

Todd Consbruck, the President & CEO of Avera St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neill said it plainly: they don't have the capacity to meet everyone's needs.

"The sad part is, as Ivan and Josie shared, we're still dealing with car accidents, cancer, heart attacks, we have seen huge numbers of pediatric needs which is unusually high this year in Nebraska," Consbruck said.

The numbers are staggering. Methodist has 114 COVID patients, about 30 of those are in the ICU and 16 are on a ventilator.

Consbruck says they've seen wait times for the sickest extend anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for a bed.

"That is heartwrenching, to watch families literally twist in the wind for 4 hours or 10 hours trying to find a bed in Lincoln or Omaha or Sioux Falls and we do everything we can to transfer those patients, but we need your help," Consbruck said.

Jeremy Nordquist, the President of the Nebraska Hospital Association, says it's under Nebraskans' control to help with managing the virus.

"Vaccines with boosters are tremendously effective at preventing hospitalizations. You are 36 times less likely to get hospitalized if you get your vaccine and booster than if you are unvaccinated," Nordquist said.

Experts call that the "crux" of a challenge that is becoming far too heavy to bear.

"We need to change this curve again now or we're going to be in a lot of trouble a couple of weeks from now," Consbruck said.

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