‘We are entering a bad time’ St. Louis area hospital workers warn the pandemic is about to get worse

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Doctors and nurses are begging the public to wear masks as the pandemic spreads, and hospitals fill up. Some of them are working 60 hours a week and need relief. They will not get a break in the next few weeks according to projections from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. The virus is spreading exponentially in the region.

Dr. Garza outlined ways to combat the spread of the virus. He recommended a state-wide stay-at-home order because what we are currently doing is not working and doing nothing will lead to a lot more deaths.

Task Force Leader Dr. Alex Garza thanked people for wearing masks. He also thanked Missouri Governor Mike Parson for issuing a public health warning on Thursday. But, he says the state still needs a mask-mandate.

“There is hope and it is not that far away. The next several weeks will be extremely difficult. How difficult depends on the actions we take right now. We are entering a bad time,” said Dr. Garza.

Dr. Garza said a shutdown in some medical services is likely if the region can’t control the spread. He says that it has been hard to stop the spread in the best of times and stopping it now seems unlikely. Especially, with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner.

Many people have recently contracted the virus. Over the next two weeks, they will become sick. Dr. Garza said that this will lead to a new surge in COVID-19 hospital admissions.

Patients are coming in from everywhere. They are coming in from rural and urban areas. The resources to take care of the patients are running out. Dr. Garza says an increase in deaths seems more likely now.

Dr. Garza says that they are starting to plan for crisis treatment. Decisions are being made about who gets help and who does not as resources become more limited. They are planning for a new surge of patients soon. A field hospital may also need to be set up in St. Louis.

Hospitals are currently converting rooms housing services like anesthesia and cardiac cath tests into ICU rooms. They will also be putting more people in ICU rooms to help meet demand. But, staffing those rooms may be difficult if there is not enough people to work there.

Medical professionals joined Dr. Garza during the press conference to share stories of treating COVID-19 positive patients ad working during a pandemic. Many patients told them that they did not think they would get the virus.

Brittany Becker became a nurse during the pandemic. She works at St. Luke’s Hospital and shared this heartbreaking story:

“No visitors are permitted in the emergency room. So, we are the only ones that can care for and comfort patients in person. I will never forget one patient with COVID-19 in particular. Their family could not get to the hospital in time to say goodbye. So, I held the patient’s hand and prayed for them as they passed,” said Becker.

Medical workers are asking you to wear a mask to help support them.

“Our profession received an enormous amount of support, especially at the beginning of our pandemic. Our community members clapped for us, dropped off meals, and showed appreciation in many other ways. We can still work together now and slow the spread of COVID-19. The easiest way to help us, your caregivers, right now, is to wear your mask. Trust me, it is much better than being hooked up to a ventilator,” said Becker.

What is it like to work during a pandemic. This nurse named Joe shared his story:

“As for staffing, we were already short before the pandemic showed up. We have had people work 48 and even 60 hours a week to make sure we have adequate staff during certain shifts. Even then, you never know what a night will bring. An absurd amount of new admissions or a drastic change in a single patient’s condition can make a staffed shift become a no-lunch, no-break marathon for 12 hours. Through all of this negativity, I have seen a lot of hope. The teamwork and comradery I have seen in the past nine months have been absolutely inspiring. Every single person who works in the hospital, from the nurses to radiology, cafeteria workers, to housekeeping, and so many more work every second of every shift to make it better for one another. Now, more than ever, hospital workers are united. There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to COVID. But, I do know that we healthcare workers will continue to pick each other up. We will all get through this together and be stronger for it. If there was something I could ask of people, besides following CDC guidelines, is to reach out to a healthcare worker, especially one that works in a hospital. Their days have been very hard lately,” said a nurse named Joe.

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