Health care workers battling fatigue prepare for next wave of COVID-19 cases

WASHINGTON, D.C — Hospital workers nationwide and right here in our community are bracing for a perfect storm.

The new omicron variant is surging, flu cases are on the rise and all of these are happening during a busy holiday travel season.

“It’s almost like deja vu again, right?” said Dr. Shailesh Patel, the chief medical officer at Methodist Olive Branch Hospital in Mississippi.

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Read: Coronavirus symptom checker: Does a cough mean omicron, a cold or the flu?

Just when health care workers thought there could be some relief, they’re gearing up for another variant, another surge, another fight.

“Providers, physicians, nurses, everybody that works in a hospital, we’re all tired,” said Dr. Patel. “But we have to, we have to stay focused on, you know, taking care of all the patients and keeping ourselves well, keeping our families well.”

Dr. Patel said many health care workers are feeling fatigue as we head into the third year of the pandemic and now he’s concerned about what the omicron variant could do within the next few weeks.

Read: Doctor says COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing at AdventHealth Centra Care locations in Orange County

“We’re hoping it’s not going to be as bad. But we still you know even, even though majority of the patients are doing well we still have a handful that will get sick and come to the hospitals,” said Dr. Patel. “But those handfuls sometimes end up staying longer than anticipated and that’s what clogs up the hospital system.”

Since the pandemic started, more than 800,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 and health forecasters say it’s a death toll that could hit more grim milestones in the future.

Read: Fauci: Vaccine mandate for those on domestic flights ‘should be considered’

But Dr. Patel said he’s counting the number of lives saved each day.

“That’s the thing that keeps every one of us going. Yeah, we’re tired, we’re depressed or sad about everything that’s going on, but it’s being able to help one person get back home to their loved one, you know, keeps us coming back every day,” he said.

Some relief is on the way for health care workers. The Pentagon will send up to 1,000 military doctors, nurses and paramedics to the hardest-hit hospitals in January and February.

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