By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Chuck Welch, VP and Chief Business Development Officer with the Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System didn't mince words when talking about the effects COVID-19 is having on his staff Tuesday.
"This is the surge that we planned for six months ago," Welch said. "We had the luxury of sort of a dry run, a practice. All the things that we were doing months ago is back on the table and being discussed right now."
Employee fatigue is a huge issue, even with the hospital at COVID-19 patient levels in the low double digits, because each ventilated patient needs such literally intensive care.
"A COVID patient, because they're in ICU, it really takes two nurses to every one COVID patient. It takes a nurse that has to be fully kitted in isolation equipment, mask, glove, gowns, PAPR masks, face shields, to then go into the room, while another nurse stays outside and runs the pumps and does the non-isolation stuff."
The hospital does not want to have to slow or stop other health care to get COVID-19 patients taken care of, but the wildfire of cases is not under control right now.
"There's a national nursing shortage," Welch said. "Nurses, respiratory therapists, they're all in high demand. They are a high-need specialty right now and there's just not enough to go around. Staffing has been an issue even before COVID and its just really come to the forefront now."
Welch, who was a respiratory therapist earlier in his career, is even looking into what it might take to be recertified so he could help, if necessary.