COVID-19 surge impacts UVA Health staff numbers

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 12:15 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - COVID-19 case numbers are on the rise all around UVA Health. A doctor there says the omicron variant isn’t just impacting patients.

“Because of our staffing situation, you know, any hospital in the country is not going to be able to deliver the same quality care this year than you were able to deliver last year,” Doctor Taison Bell with UVA Health said.

Dr. Bell says this is because of COVID-19 infections and exposures, as well as staff testing sites being packed.

“The line was the longest I’ve really ever seen,” Bell said. “And they told me that they’ve had some of the highest numbers of staff testing positive recently. So, it’s this combination of high volumes, lower staffing, and you’re still dealing with people that are just as sick as you were dealing with last year.”

He says staff members that have tested positive for the virus have to be out for five to six days, and the problem is they can’t plan for these absences.

“The bread and butter of what we do, we serve the community, but we also take in transfers, the sickest of the sick, right?” Bell said. “And that depends on how our staffing is going to look. And so if you don’t have a good sense of what your staffing is going to be able to withstand, then it’s hard to be able to bring people in who are sick, even if they would benefit from coming here.”

Dr. Bell says this is a problem that has been brought on by the newer variant and how quickly it spreads. But he says it’s hurting the unvaccinated the most, which are the ones staff are treating. He says they have to be treated with different caution, since they could be infectious to others.

“It puts strain on your healthcare system,” Bell said. “And even if it’s a primary for COVID, or with COVID, the fact that they’re in the hospital is a problem from a staffing standpoint.”

Doctors say it is important to remember your layered mitigation strategies right now, in order to keep everyone safe. That’s masking, distancing and getting your vaccine and booster, if eligible.

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