ICU doctor discusses second wave of COVID-19 cases, staff shortage
BATON ROUGE- Dr. Stephen Brierre of Baton Rouge General says in the ICU, the second wave of COVID-19 is not much different from the first.
"The surge is very similar. The patients are similar," Brierre said.
But there is one critical difference.
"It is more difficult the second time around because of the nursing shortages that we're having."
Dr. Brierre says there's a misconception that empty hospital beds are the same thing as beds available for new COVID patients.
"There are physical beds that are available and then there's the number of beds that actually have a nurse available to take care of a patient in it. For BRG right now we have 50 ICU beds available, where we usually only operate 24 ICU beds, but we don't have enough nurses to staff each of those beds."
At BRG, seven ICU nurses have contracted the virus and gone home. Another problem is that many of the traveling nurses that were here for the first wave have gone to states like Texas.
"They began to offer very high wages for travel nurses, wages which we can't compete with at this point, and so many of these nurses have not re-signed with us for this second surge and have moved on to Texas."
Brierre says for now the only way to deal with the shortage is to try and keep the number of patients down.
"We all need to be extra diligent in our social distancing and hand hygiene and wearing our masks."
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