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Staffing Shortages Stifle North Texas Hospitals As COVID-19 Cases Rise

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - More than one-third of those who are tested for COVID-19 are coming back positive in the DFW Metroplex.

On Wednesday, Jan. 5, the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council reported 2,681 patients with COVID-19 or a 165-patient increase from Tuesday in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

There were 125 pediatric COVID-19 patients in area hospitals on Wednesday, which is an increase of 22 pediatric COVID-19 patients from Tuesday.

This represents 19.4% of available bed capacity.

The council also reported they have adult staffed ICU beds available of 73 and COVID-19 patients account for 32.3% of adult ICU patients.

"We continue to see our COVID-19 hospitalizations increase every day," said Stephen Love, President and CEO Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.

These numbers according to Love are the highest since the end of September, "What is does is put a real strain on staffing."

Staffing that is in short supply as Love said there's several reasons why this is as COVID-19 fatigue is setting in along with retirements, nurses joining traveling agencies or staff getting sick themselves.

"Our staff live in the community so with 14,000 employees there's really no way for us to avoid our folks getting infected with COVID and having to be out," said Joseph Chang, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Parkland Health & Hospital System.

Chang told CBS 11 News a couple weeks ago they had about 30 patients in the hospital with COVID, now that number is up to 190.

With the CDC recommendations to cut down the number of days of quarantine from 10 to 5, Chang said that will help with staffing, "To have people out 5 less days is certainly helpful but you know some people are actually still are sick at day 6 day 7 and we're not going to ask them to come back if they are actually still sick with some real symptoms."

But highlights there was already a shortage of health care workers before the pandemic, "Ideally I want another 800 clinical staff here today on the ground working if I could."

Chang told CBS 11 they try to boost morale and if someone sees a health care working in the community to say 'thanks' as they are working hard during this pandemic. Chang along with other health care leaders are asking the community to help them end this pandemic.

"What we really need is for our community to come together, get vaccinated, 100 percent, and then we can really knock this thing out a lot better than we are," added Chang.

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