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Hospitals fear staffing shortage as employee COVID cases also surge

Posted at 9:21 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 22:48:02-05

(WXYZ) — Monday was the first day back to work at Troy Beaumont for Physician Assistant Jaclyn DiBartolomeo. She was out two weeks, isolated at home as she battled COVID-19.

“It's hard to be at home and see that my coworkers are working hard to provide for these patients and I couldn’t be the one to help,” DiBartolomeo said.

Her case was only mild, but it also meant her team was down a person as new cases reached record highs.

“We had a lot of people in our hospital during the time that I was out just because of the spike in cases,” DiBartolomeo said.

At the same time, a number of Jaclyn’s coworkers also had the virus as that spike in cases also hit hospital employees.

Henry Ford Health System reported 177 new cases in the last 7 days, which was 21% of the employees who were tested.

“This is very concerning to me because this means that we are starting to hit numbers that we saw in the first surge," said Henry Ford Health System Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Adnan Munkararh. "Most to it is due to community exposure.”

Right now, doctors say hospitalized patients are doing well. However that changes if large numbers of staff are out sick in the midst of surge.

“If we’re short staffed on those floors combined with a huge patient load, those patients aren’t going to have the same kinds of outcomes,” said Dr. Justin Skrzynski at Beaumont Royal Oak.

Right now, many patients are staying off ventilators because staff can spend more time with each patient providing special treatments. But a bigger case load and less staff, means less time and less treatments.

“If we don't have the people who can physically work with the patients, unfortunately those are treatments the patients just aren't going to be able to get,” Dr. Skrzynski said.

With a surge already here, front line workers are begging the public to bring these numbers down. Keeping not only them, but everyone else safe.

“In order for us to care for the community, we want to make sure our employees are doing well,” said Dr. Munkarah.

“If we’re running low on staff that just compounds the problem," added Dr. Skrzynski. "So now more than ever is time for a real community push to get this under control.”