COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo (KRDO) — Enough beds in intensive care units have been at the center of attention for Colorado hospitals, but having beds won’t matter if there aren’t enough nurses or doctors to care for ICU patients.
That’s the situation more and more Colorado hospitals are experiencing. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 24 percent of hospitals anticipate staffing shortages within the next week.
Cara Welch with the Colorado Hospital Association says care centers started seeing staff shortages around the same time COVID-19 cases sky-rocketed across Colorado.
“We are unfortunately seeing more of them getting sick right now or needing to quarantine and that’s really a result of this increased community spread that we are seeing all around the state,” Welch says.
According to Welch, hospital staff aren’t getting sick from work, rather they are exposed to the virus when they’re off the clock through everyday tasks like grocery shopping or picking up kids from school.
Welch says, “They are out amongst their community and so we are seeing that level of community spread really start to impact our staffing levels in our hospitals.
Unlike other professions struggling with sick employees, hospitals can’t call in extra nurses or doctors to fill in because the problem is happening all over the state.
“Our nurses and providers in our hospitals are really essential where they are and aren’t probably moving around as much as they may have before,” Welch tells us.
UCHealth in El Paso County says they have not experienced any shortages at this time, but if it does happen they say they would redeploy nursing staff from outpatient clinics or other areas to care for hospitalized patients. Welch predicts that the same strategy might be implemented in other hospitals.
UCHealth and Welch both say the best thing Coloradans can do to help these workers out is to listen to the advice from the Public Health Department: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and stay home if you feel sick.