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COVID Cases Up, Hospital Staffing Down in Charlottesville

The Blue Ridge Health District reports nearly a thousand new COVID cases so far this month, and Dr. Taison Bell, Director of the medical intensive care unit at UVA says staff is scrambling to keep up.

Taison Bell
UVA's Dr. Taison Bell says many hospitals are struggling to hire enough nurses to care for a growing number of COVID patients.

“Across the board a lot of hospital systems, our own included, are struggling with how to find enough nurses to take care of the patients that we need to take care of. A physical bed in the hospital doesn’t necessarily mean that we can take care of a patient if we don’t have the staffing to do it,” he explains.

Bell adds that the pandemic made a pre-existing shortage even worse.

“We’ve had a combination of nurses and therapists either leaving because they’re just tapped out and want to go into other areas or want to retire altogether, but also in areas that have had surges, hospitals that have the ability to do so are offering very lucrative contracts for traveling nurses to come and work in that area.”

The health district has hired an additional 15 people to track the close contacts of those infected, and the university’s Biocomplexity Institute predicts the current surge won’t peak until October 17th, when Charlottesville and surrounding counties will see more than 2,200 cases a week.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief