Hospitals worry about staffing shortage as employees test positive for COVID

Posted at 5:11 PM, Nov 20, 2020

DETROIT (WXYZ) — With hospitals filling up as COVID 19 continues it’s rapid spread, staffing is becoming a major concern.

“Unfortunately this problem is not getting any better," said Henry Ford Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adnan Munkarah. "At times, it’s getting worse.”

In Henry Ford Health System, more than 20 employees per day are testing positive for the virus, putting them on the sidelines for at least 2 weeks. This poses a concern as more cases are leading to more hospitalizations.

"This is causing significant strain to the rest of the staff who are in the hospitals, as well as providing staffing challenges for us and other healthcare systems,” Dr. Munkarah said.

Right now, 290 employees throughout the health system are quarantined. That's leading some staff to work extra time to cover their shifts, and the HR department has been reaching out to retired nurses. However, it’s not enough.

“This is obviously not sufficient to us to close the gap with the number of employees testing positive and having to be quarantined and taken offline,” Dr. Munkarah said.

It’s also becoming difficult to bring in outside help. Unlike the first wave, cases are spiking in nearly every part of the country.

"We are seeing a rise in numbers across the nation," Dr. Munkarah added. "So our ability at the present time to get nursing and staffing from other states as well as other parts of the nation is very limited, if any.”

With an employee positivity rate of nearly 20%, Dr. Munkarah believes the spread among staff is happening in the community, not at work.

He urges everyone to avoid large gatherings, and continue to to mask up as Thanksgiving approaches.

“This is a public health issue where everyone can be a hero,” he said.