From the beginning of the omicron surge, hospitals have faced a two-pronged assault of more COVID-19 patients, with fewer health care workers to treat them.
“The staffing issue is the most serious issue that we’re currently facing,” said Dr. Sergio Segarra, the chief medical officer of Baptist Health. “We have plenty of equipment, we have plenty of medications, it is a staff issue.”
Segarra said Baptist had 500 health care workers out with COVID Monday. Memorial Hospital had roughly the same number of absences Monday, comprised of health care professionals calling in sick.
“We’ve had to shut down urgent care centers so that we can move that staff to another urgent care center,” Segarra said, describing how his hospital system has consolidated staff.
NBC 6 counted eight urgent care centers across Broward and Miami-Dade that seemed to be closed. Some hospitals, including Memorial, are postponing some non-emergency surgeries.
Meanwhile, nearly 7,000 Broward Public Schools students were absent Monday because of COVID. Some of them have tested positive, but most have just been exposed to someone who has the virus and are staying home in quarantine.
“We know our students do better when they are in our classrooms so please send your children to school if they are not sick,” said superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright in a video message posted on the district’s website.
1,172 Broward teachers called in sick Monday. In Miami-Dade, that number was 1,489 teachers.
Last week, Jen Kaelin, a teacher at Jose Marti MAST Academy, shared her perspective of working during this pandemic wave.
“Anyone who’s available in the building is being asked to watch other classes and it’s very difficult,” Kaelin said last Tuesday.
Since then, she contracted COVID-19, despite being vaccinated, boosted, and wearing two masks in school.
“And so now here I am, one of the many teachers who are out,” Kaelin said from home. “It’s just a really, really bad cold, like the worst cold I’ve ever had and it’s very difficult knowing I’m here and I can’t help my students because I’m here and they’re at school.”
The school districts are coping with the staffing shortage by having teachers cover more than one class and by moving administrators and other personnel back into the classroom.
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