CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Staffing shortages are common nowadays, especially worker shortages due to COVID-19. The healthcare system is not any different.
Dr. Mary Peterson, the executive vice president and chief operating officer for Driscoll Children’s Health System, said the hospital in Corpus Christi has been facing staffing shortages for a while. She said she’s glad the CDC shortened the amount of time healthcare workers need to isolate or quarantine.
“It is helpful that the CDC has clarified some of this and shortened some of the time frames, not just for healthcare workers, but for everybody,” Peterson said.
The CDC announced healthcare workers only need to isolate for seven days if they’re asymptomatic and test negative for COVID-19. Before that, they had to isolate for 10 days. They also said healthcare workers who were exposed to the virus but are fully vaccinated with a booster don’t have to quarantine at all if they don’t have symptoms.
Peterson said they saw more doctors and nurses call out when there were COVID-19 surges due to the different variants.
“The most challenge that we’ve had was really with the number of admissions versus staffing was probably in the August, September time frame when we had our Delta surge,” she said.
Peterson said in the last two weeks, the hospital has also been seeing children come in with other types of illness like the flu.
The CDC said they reduced the number of days people had to quarantine or isolate so more employees would be able to go back to work.
“With the sheer volume of new cases that we are having and that we expect to continue with omicron, one of the things that we wanted to be careful of is that we don’t have so many people out,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor said.
It’s also an issue that is happening in larger cities nearby like San Antonio.
Tommye Austin, the senior vice president and chief nurse executive for University Health System in San Antonio, said they have also faced staffing shortages due to their employees calling out when contracting or being exposed to COVID-19. She said it’s especially been a problem in the past few weeks in the emergency and pediatrics departments and because of that, they’ve had to make accommodations.
“I’ve had travel nurses in the past to supplement staffing but because of COVID-19 and sick staff, we’ve had to increase those numbers,” Austin said.