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Healthcare workers describe exhausting situation inside COVID units

Staff are working around the clock to make sure patients get the best care

COVID-19 is taking over hospitals. ICU's are full, resources are limited, and staff are working around the clock to try and save patients. WWL-TV spoke with two healthcare workers locally, who say there's no way to explain what they're experiencing.

"It's a very unreal situation," said Kathryn Burke. "The public would have zero idea how to comprehend that if they walked in."

The fourth wave of COVID-19 is hitting local hospitals hard.

"We're running out of beds, we're running out of ventilators," described Halle Field. "We're seeing more younger patients dying than we've ever seen before."

Staff are strained.

"It's emotionally exhausting because these patients are incredibly sick," said Burke. 

Still, they're doing what they can to keep up with demand. Burke, who's the Clinical Manager of Critical Care at West Jefferson Medical Center, says their unit is full.

"I can tell you the COVID unit is not a happy and cheerful place," she said. "It's a lot of overwhelming beeping, there's a lot of pumps going off. Most of the patients are primarily on ventilators. There are multiple drips, multiple IV pumps running, some needing dialysis, the acuity of these patients is unreal and it's taking a toll on the nursing staff."

At Ochsner, Halle Field, who is a director of a COVID unit there, says this go-around has been different.

"We have families coming in, multiple family members admitted coming together," she said.

And with the influx of patients, it's almost been too much.

"Everyone is trying to get the job done and give the patients the care they need," Field said.

This surge is pushing medical professionals emotionally, physically, and mentally. And with so many cases coming in right now, they say, it's really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"Seeing more and more patients coming in the hospital, requiring ventilators, being on high amounts of oxygen, it's not where we thought we'd be at this point," said Field.

"It's got to be scary for patients and it's scary for staff because we don't see an end in sight," said Burke.

And as healthcare workers do their part, they're pleading with the public to do theirs by masking up and getting vaccinated. That way, that light at the end of the tunnel can maybe shine a bit brighter for all.

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