DALLAS - Hundreds more medical workers will be headed to North Texas in the next week to deal with the shortage of hospital staff.
Parkland said three COVID-19 wards are currently running, as of Friday, and that likely will need to expand as hospitalizations trend upward.
It, like every hospital in the area, doesn't have enough nurses or support staff.
Travel nurses fill in that gap.
The COVID-19 patient surge is not slowing, as Parkland is about to open its 4th COVID unit.
Staffing help is on the way, but officials said it’s still not enough.
"It's like every week we are having to admit new patients. And, you know, it just seems to not end," traveling nurse Nichole Dadzie said.
The staffing shortage in Texas hospitals was fully exposed when the delta variant started to surge last month.
There are 5,000 reinforcement staff expected to be deployed across the state by next week.
Parkland and John Peter Smith hospitals just received their first wave of nurses this week.
"It almost felt like the calvary came. It was applauded when the staff got off the bus," said Donna Richardson, chief of nursing for Parkland.
Many of the support staff are experienced nurses who left full time hospital work for travel work.
"I was one of the nurses to open a COVID unit and, you know, going in there, I didn't know what to expect. So, you know, doing that for a whole year without a break, that was kind of, you know, it's kind of stressful," Dadzie added.
Dadzie works for Plano-based StaffDNA.
The company helps connect nurses with hundreds of hospitals across the country.
Dadzie left her regular nursing job in Dallas after having twins to have a more flexible schedule.
She's now on a 13-week contract at Baylor Medical in Irving.
"I've had several patients ask me, you know, ‘Nurse, can I take [a vaccine] now and be OK?’ or ‘Nurse, you know, did I make a mistake not taking [a vaccine]," Dadzie said.
StaffDNA said, on average, its traveling nurses make more than twice as much as full time hospital staff per week.
A lot of hospitals are losing nurses strictly because they can make more money travelling. There’s also burnout.
"There is a huge shortage. And, you know, I would say one of the reasons to me is, you know, the burned out nurses are so burned out," Dadzie said.
"We definitely need more staff. Overall, we are down roughly about 500 nurses, so 34 is some help, but we need more," Richardson said.
The strain on the system is great.
Dadzie said being able to help people in need is what keeps her going.
"At the end of the day, I get to see my family. You know, I'm thankful for that. So I want to be able to give these patients that opportunity as well. And then if it's through me, then so be it. So that keeps me going," Dadzie said.
The DFW Hospital Council predicts North Texas hospitals will get about 200 more workers next week.