For months, California hospitals avoided the dreaded surge in coronavirus patients that threatened to overwhelm wards and stretch thin staff and supplies. But now, with coronavirus hospitalizations in the state at an all-time high, doctors and nurses at some hospitals say the nightmare has arrived.
Hospitals up and down the state report that their beds are filling up fast, staffers are tiring and medications used to treat coronavirus patients are running low. The surge has hit California unevenly, with some facilities reporting their numbers staying flat in recent weeks, while others have risen sharply.
“We’re getting to the point where we’re just overwhelmed — emotionally, physically exhausted. We don’t have enough workers for all these patients; we’re working extra shifts,” said Mary Lynn Briggs, an intensive care unit nurse at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield. “I’m expecting things to go from bad to worse over at least the next couple of weeks.”
The months since March allowed hospitals time to prepare for such a surge. Doctors learned more about how to treat COVID-19 patients, hospital administrators obtained more protective gear, and staffers know more about how the coronavirus is transmitted and how to protect themselves.
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