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Weary Hospital Staffs Glimpse Light at End of COVID19 Pandemic

Weary Hospital Staffs Glimpse Light at End of COVID19 Pandemic

Across the U.S., the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has tumbled more than 28% over the past three weeks to about 105,000 on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the ebbing of the omicron surge may signal good news to most Americans, overburdened hospitals have barely limped through the omicron surge with already depleted workforces.

In some hospitals, office workers and other support staff were assigned to help make beds and perform other housekeeping tasks because healthcare workers got sick in droves while caring for COVID-19 patients. The National Guard was called in to supplement medical staff in several states. The pandemic impacted all other hospital services, leaving in its wake canceled procedures and postponed surgeries. And now exhausted staff members face uncertainty over whether this is the last big wave or whether another one lies ahead.

Many hospitals are still in crisis mode as they work to reschedule people whose hip replacements and even cancer and brain surgeries were put off during the omicron crisis to free up bed space and nurses to care for COVID-19 patients.

At the Cleveland Clinic’s 13 Ohio hospitals, the number of patients with COVID-19 has fallen to 280, down from an all-time pandemic high of around 1,200. Surgeries began to be delayed at the end of December, and the situation is just now returning to normal, said Dr. Raed Dweik, head of the system’s respiratory institute.

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Dr. Craig Spencer, a New York City emergency room physician, tweeted a week ago: “Just worked 12 hours in the ER on a busy Monday and didn’t have a single Covid patient. Not one. This ain’t over. But it’s a helluva lot better than even just a few weeks ago.” Dr. Spencer told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he had another COVID-free shift during the overnight hours Friday and Saturday. “I am getting a somewhat random sample, of course, but just compared to a month ago, it’s a complete sea change, which is great,” he said.

The news is still encouraging, especially when taken with the imminent repeal of mask mandates across the country beginning as soon as this weekend in some states.

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