Overwhelmed North Texas hospitals still seek more staff to help with omicron surge

Patients listed as hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Texas ticked upward again Friday, but there was some improving news among the youngest patients.

Some parts of the country are beginning to see indications they are at omicron’s peak, but hospitals across Texas still say they need more help.

JPS Hospital shared Friday that 49 traveling nurses and respiratory therapists have arrived to help tackle the omicron surge.

They are some of the 1,000 arriving in the North Texas area to help hospitals that have staff going out sick and more sick patients coming in, though there is some improvement on the pediatric front.

Cook Children’s, which reported a record-high 69 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Wednesday, saw the number drop to 42.

Officials believe the peak could still be weeks away.           

"I hope we don't grow those numbers even higher for COVID. What I hear from the epidemiologist is that we will not peak for three to four weeks, so if that holds true, then unfortunately I come back to you and tell you we have a higher number," Cook Children’s Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Petersen said.

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North Texas hospitals are reporting the highest number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 since January of last year.

Hospitals nationwide have reported varying percentages of people who are hospitalized for other reasons and then test positive while there.

Regardless, hospital workers in Texas say they are overwhelmed.

"They are coming through the ambulance, and then coming through the door. We can’t stop them and say the doors are closed because of legal reasons. We can’t stop them even though there’s no room," ER nurse practitioner Elda Ramirez said.

Although the state of Texas is in the middle of rolling out 4,000 extra hospital staffers statewide, hospitals said they need more help.

In the San Antonio area, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers sent Governor Greg Abbott a letter Friday thanking the state for 400 healthcare workers, but asking for even more.

"The ICUs are very busy to begin with, so if you pair that with COVID patients, an influx of often critical patients, and sometimes you find shortages in all ICUs not just COVID. These nurses are being pulled from different areas to take of these critical patients," ER traveling nurse Leah Bennett added.