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Florida Nurse Warns 'Nursing Shortage' About To Hit State As COVID-19 Puts Strain On Hospital Systems

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Other states are worried about the coronavirus straining their hospital systems. More than 8,000 people in Florida alone are now hospitalized with the virus.

"If you have wave after wave after wave, how long can you sustain that?" said Dr. Jason Wilson.

Dr. Wilson is the associate director of emergency management at Tampa General Hospital. He said the volume of COVID patients coming to the hospital is five times higher than it was a month and a half ago.

"We've really done everything we can to try to keep patients out of the hospital who don't need to be in the hospital," said Dr. Wilson.

It's a direr situation in South Florida. There are just 10 ICU beds left in all of Miami-Dade County.

"Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic. What we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago, five months ago, now we are there," said Dr. Lilian Abbo.

Dr. Abbo, the chief of infection prevention for Jackson Health System, said nurses and doctors in her hospitals are working around the clock due to the sheer volume of patients – some are even getting sick.

"The nursing shortage that's about to enter our community, no one's ready for. Because on a normal basis, without coronavirus, there's already a nursing shortage," said Melisa, a Florida nurse who traveled to New York City at the height of its outbreak.

She said she's petrified that with crises in several states, there won't be enough nurses like her to come help Florida.

"Right now, Texas is sucking in all ICU, E.R. nurses. They're getting all the specialty nurses. Arizona is getting the leftovers of that. So what does Florida get?" she said. "That's what's really scary about this."

In addition to staffing help, hospitals are also asking people who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate their plasma. That's because people who recover can have valuable antibodies and their plasma can help treat COVID patients.

One Blood Bank in Florida said demand for that convalescent plasma is through the roof as hospitals use it treat more and more people.

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