Head of hospitals UI: viral surge has led to staff burnout

DES MOEEN, Iowa (AP) – The head of Iowa’s largest hospital said Wednesday that he is concerned about the rise in coronavirus cases, which is burning many nurses and other staff members.

Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, told reporters during a conference call that the hospital has hundreds of jobs not only for nurses, but also for people working in the food service, household, maintenance and nursing.

Gunasekaran said the current concern is not COVID-19 patients, but the burnout of workers who “have labored so valiantly for 18 months with such a large volume, with such a high level of mental and mental stress compared to the severity of the patients. what they see. “

Patients are transferred to UIHC from other hospitals that cannot handle the additional burden on patients as the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise.

The Iowa Department of Health said Wednesday that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state jumped more than 10% in the last week to 638, the highest since December 2020. The agency reported 81 additional deaths leading to COVID-19 in the state. the death toll – 6 482 people.

State figures show that as of Wednesday, 18 children were hospitalized and six more children, ages 18 to 19, were hospitalized. None of these young patients have been vaccinated, although children under 12 years of age are not eligible for vaccination. The number of patients in intensive care units increased to 161, and the number of patients on mechanical ventilation increased to 74.

UIHC is treating eight or nine children who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, Gunasekaran said, and its children’s hospital has also been attacked by children with non-COVID-19 respiratory conditions. The combination added additional load to the system.

Hospitals in Iowa, like many states, are facing severe staff shortages, Gunasekaran said, largely due to the pandemic stretching over the past 18 months and medical workers retiring early, temporarily leaving or transferring to other jobs.

“What worries me most is how long this pandemic will last and how much it has already inflicted on our health workers,” he said. “We pay a pretty high price in terms of the mental health of our employees, in terms of the physical stress they face on a day-to-day basis.”

All but one of Iowa’s 99 counties have high prevalence rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s vaccination rate has stalled: 53.4% ​​of the total population is fully vaccinated. It is the 23rd-highest rate of any state, but falls short of the national average (54.8%) and far behind Vermont (69%), which is the highest nationwide.

More than 3,000 Iowa children were among the approximately 12,000 new COVID-19 cases in the state in the past week, according to state data released Wednesday.

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