Latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, is sparking new fear — among policymakers, parents, educators, business owners, and just about everyone. And for good reason, as early reports suggest, it’s significantly easier to transmit than previous variants. But for those of us involved in clinical care and public health — we are emergency physicians and trauma surgeons — there is another fear: with almost every part of our system has been overprocessed, we are on the verge of collapse that will make it impossible for us to provide even a basic standard of care. Even if Omicron ends up being light, it could be the straw that breaks our backs.
Long before the pandemic broke out, Americans’ health care was fragile. This problem has only gotten worse over the past 20 months. In spite of federal support adopted by health care systems during the pandemic, health facilities are facing severe resource shortages, from basic medicine, to the operating room Staff, the ability to find chef for nursing homes. Each is important to enable the delivery of high-quality care to trauma patients, critically ill diabetics or those requiring emergency surgery, fewer nursing home patients, and those with behavioral health problems.
The reasons for the deficiency are manifold.
Problems in our supply chain – the same factors that slow down the shipping of chips and holiday gifts – are part of them. The lack of simplicity of fund is another cause, especially for smaller and rural health systems. Early in the pandemic, we canceled elective surgeries to ensure there were enough nurses, beds, masks and ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients. That decision is important to saving lives, but most healthcare depends on revenues from surgeries to subsidize other aspects of care delivery and now budgets. are being further stressed with escalating temporary labor costs. We’re also spending more money than ever on personal protective equipment. NS Great resignation—The dramatic drop in people in the workplace — is another matter.
But in the healthcare sector, staffing shortages are symbolic of many other things. (And vaccine mandates are not the reason for shortages: for example, in Rhode Island, the two largest health care systems have keep more than 95% employees after tasks are done and other major systems are retained even than.)
The reason is because nurses, technicians, doctors and other healthcare professionals simply have enough. After 20 months of fighting this virus, handling patient overload, and dealing with angry and distrustful communities, leaving in the wave. While we are paying more for the remaining scarce employees, it still may not be enough to maintain safe personnel standards. Without medical staff, we have no care.
Immediately, much Hospitals are right again Pause the surgeries and other elective procedures – not because of COVID-19, but because there are not enough staff or beds. Even without a large increase in the number of patients with COVID-19, when we were unable to transfer patients out of the hospital into a nursing home, the beds were always full; when the hospital bed runs out, it is not possible to bring the patient to the emergency department; and when the patient cannot be admitted to the hospital, the waiting room of the emergency department and the primary care room fill in acute problems that have not been treated. Nurses and doctors are frustrated that they cannot provide care in a timely manner, and patients and families are angered by the wait. Everyone gets hurt, in the short term.
But this abrogation sets off a debilitating systemic chain reaction that will hurt for a long time to come. The people whose surgeries are being canceled really need them — that’s not plastic surgery, but people with conditions like gallbladder disease or those who need a laparoscopy. These people have the ability still debilitated by whatever leads to their need for a procedure, or continues to flood emergency departments with what could be can be prevented emergency. Furthermore, continued cancellations will further damage hospitals’ ability to pay for core functions and could lead to the closure of hospital units or even the whole hospital.
For those of us on the front lines, it’s like a Whac-A-Mole game, in which we can no longer react fast enough to the “moles” that appear.
And all of this, of course, happens when Omicron has barely reached our shores, and we’re just collecting data to help us react to what might lie ahead.
The pandemic has ravaged communities, worsening long-established communities health inequalities, and demonstrate the importance of being prepared for public health. We are watching gun injury, opioid overdose, and other public health emergencies increased dramatically. And our fractured health care system is facing great strain as we lose what remains the glue that has held us together for so long – healthcare workers . Healthcare workers come day or night, weekday or weekend, birthday or holiday, sacrificing a lot, including their own lives, to help others in their most vulnerable moments. That’s our job, and we take pride in doing it. At the same time, we cannot exaggerate physical, emotional and mental damage What this pandemic has had on our colleagues is extremely important. If we really want to save lives, we must act now.
Yes, we must continue to step up vaccination, mask wearing, testing and ventilation, to prevent another surge of COVID. But in the meantime, let’s take a look around. Our hospital has nothing left to offer. If we want to avoid a downhill crisis of standards of care, it’s time to support our hospitals and clinics.
We will encourage the government to help us invest to increase healthcare workforce pipeline and provide adequate pay support for nurses, advanced specialists, technicians, home health aides and all other ancillary staff; strengthen our remaining staff, in the short term, through military-civilian cooperation on the ground; consider deploying healthcare professionals in the U.S. Public Health Commission Corps to strengthen clinics, nursing homes, and other critical health care functions; and make real commitments, both monetary and otherwise, to support our public health preparedness and prevention systems, so we don’t end up in a worse place present. To truly support the mental health and well-being of our frontline workers, it’s not just about taking COVID-19 precautions.
While no one wakes up expecting to be injured or sick, we can tell you that people always expect care if they are injured. And we of course want to be there for you. But we need a little help, to make it happen.