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Local hospitals filling up with patients as medical workers pushed to limit again

Even though a smaller percentage of people are having serious symptoms, so many more people are testing positive that there are still a lot of people in the hospital

NEW ORLEANS — NEW ORLEANS - Local hospitals are being tested by the Omicron Variant. Many say they are being inundated by COVID-positive patients or those who've found out they were positive once there.

The situation inside local hospitals is once again critical.

"We are definitely stressed, we are definitely strained," said Ireal Fusco, the pediatric emergency physician at Children's Hospital.

"We saw the numbers skyrocket quickly so it's a feeling of here we go again," said Jeffrey Elder, the Medical Director of Emergency Management at LCMC Health.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant is pushing cases to historic levels. As a result, people are flocking to emergency rooms, which for medical professionals is taking a toll.

"Overall we do see a less sick population that test positive for COVID, but the fact we have so many people testing positive and we're breaking records every day across the country that means there's still people who require hospitalization," said Elder.

For Fusco at Children's, it's been nonstop.

"This surge is definitely different because we're seeing a lot more children be affected by this variant," she says.

Not only has she seen an influx in patients, but like most hospitals, beds are at times full and staffing is hard to maintain since so many are testing positive.

"We are not working as efficiently as we would like to, but that's because we're working the best we can," she said.

That's what's happening at LCMC Health, where Elder says every day is a constant shuffle.

"So many people are testing positive, the twist here is now it's also our workers that in high numbers are testing positive because the community is testing positive in high numbers," he said. "And so anything we can do to get that community pressure of disease down will help keep more people healthy, more at work and more healthy through these surges."

Still, even with the latest round of challenges, these workers say they're trying to push through.

"I'm positive the end of the tunnel is there, even if I can't see it, I want it to be there.," said Fusco.

And they add they can't do this alone, saying everyone has a role to play in getting to the other side of the curve.

The hospital staff we spoke with say they are not turning patients away, but remind people to keep the Emergency Departments for emergencies only. Also, if you're in need of a COVID test, it's best to try somewhere else first.

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