North Texas hospitals getting extra staff, but seeking more as omicron surge continues

Reinforcements are on the ground to help North Texas hospitals dealing with rising COVID-19 cases, but hospitals say they need more help.

A representative for rural Texas hospitals said some hospitals are having issues transferring really sick patients to larger facilities because they don’t have the staff.

Meanwhile, places like Parkland in Dallas got extra staff this week, but are requesting more.

Help is here, with more on the way, and more needed.

North Texas hospitals battling the virus in patients, and among their staff, are in the process of adding 1,000 extra staffers.

It’s something the state has done during past waves.

"We've got a couple of hundred staff up there working already, and we'll be looking to increase that over the coming weeks," said Chris Van Deusen, spokesperson for Texas Department of State Health Services.

The state has had extra staff in El Paso and the Panhandle for several weeks.

It is now working to bring on at least 4,000 staffers statewide.

"I think one thing we're seeing now is we're seeing an increase, really, across a large part of the state. And so that certainly strains things a little bit more," Van Deusen said.

In Fort Worth, JPS is getting 49 staffers and requesting more. In November, it halted elective surgeries that required admission to the hospital.

Cook Children’s already has 12 extra staffers and expects a total of 21.

In Dallas, Parkland said it has received 68 and is also requesting more.

The state is hopeful it’ll continue to get more help.

"We want to be realistic about this, but we think we can get the staff continuing to come into Texas," Van Deusen said. "There are certainly people out there who are available, and we want to make sure we can get them here as quickly as possible."

Inside hospitals, staff are exhausted.

"We are kind of facing a lot of burn out, as a lot of nurses have been at this for over 20 months now," Texas Nurses Association Board Member Mary Vitullo said.

RELATED: COVID-19 omicron surge continues to put strain on North Texas nurses

Local doctors have raised concerns about how many children are ending up hospitalized. 

There were 39 children with COVID-19 hospitalized at Cook Children’s Friday, up 13 patients from Monday.

RELATED: Pediatric COVID-19 cases hit record high as students return to school

The hospital recently shared the story of a Haylee Richard, a Denison High School junior hospitalized in September with a severe case of the virus.

"Went from okay to not fast, real fast," Haylee’s mother, Hillary Richard, said.

According to the hospital, Haylee’s mother said they weren’t initially weren’t able to find a bed for her, then Cook Children’s offered one.

"I’ve just become a lot more grateful and thankful for everything in life, like even the little things," Hillary added.

Cook Children’s said Haylee was not vaccinated, but planned to get the vaccine now that she’s cleared. 

The last time pediatric hospitalizations in North Texas were this high was in September around the time Haylee was hospitalized, when they peaked at 132 children.

According to state numbers, the number of children hospitalized in North Texas is now 128.