SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — As the Delta variant fuels the fourth COVID-19 wave, some already exhausted Bay Area frontline healthcare workers who’ve worked through the pandemic feel a sense of déjà vu.
“We don’t have a huge amount of COVID patients at this moment, but I expect every two weeks for that number to continue to rise,” said Sam, a registered nurse at a Bay Area hospital.READ MORE: UPDATE: Many in East Bay Still Without Power
To her, the last year and a half has proven to be rewarding at times, but also difficult, frustrating, and draining, both physically and mentally. She hasn’t burnt out, but has seen others who have, and she understands why.
“Usually if you’re a nurse you care a lot. So, you’re going to try and try and keep trying to give 100% until you have nothing left in your own tank,” she said. “There’s been a lot of turnover for nurses, nursing assistants, and everyone who works – especially in the acute care setting.”
Though vaccination rates in the region are high and case loads lower, Bay Area hospitals aren’t immune from the trend. The nursing shortage is affecting hospitals nationwide.
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve lost all of our staff or anything like that – there are plenty of people still coming to the area. But, I think the times we’ve been through have been particularly difficult for a number of reasons on our society in general, and nurses have been impacted by that as well,” Sequoia Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dieter Bruno said. “Nursing, nursing assistants are one of the areas we continue to have to work through in order to find people to take care of our patients.”READ MORE: Menlo Park Man Stabbed at Party
Bruno said they have very strong clinical programs at Sequoia Hospital that are a selling point in recruiting qualified nurses and frontline workers. However, as the nursing shortage persists, hospitals are competing to fill spots.
“The two areas we struggle with the most — having nursing assistants to really support the patients and support the nurses — is one area that impacts us on different floors of the hospital. That’s been a chronic area we’ve looked at and trying to be creative about how we can resource,” he said. “The other area that we are particularly sensitive to are our surgical services line.”
Sam still has a lot left in her tank, and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.
“I love helping people – even if at times it can feel like an uphill battle – but I enjoy being able to positively affect people’s lives,” she said.
However, she hopes people will do their part in following health and safety guidelines, as well as taking steps that will help end the pandemic.MORE NEWS: One Dead, Three Wounded In Early Sunday Morning Shooting In Oakland's Uptown Neighborhood
“If you haven’t gotten a vaccine I would love it if you got a vaccine, you know? It’ll help us all,” she said. “You are doing a little piece – and everyone can be doing a little piece to try and help a lot of people that maybe you’ll never meet.”