Up to 15% of North Texas hospital workers out with COVID, DFW Hospital Council says

The DFW Hospital Council says 10-15% of area hospitals workforces are out with COVID on a daily basis. That's causing a strain.

Hospitals like Parkland say some days they have more than 500 workers out because of COVID. 

The staffing shortages statewide come at a time when hospitals are hoping to get more resources from the federal government. 

The omicron variant continues to set new highs in Texas. 

One in three Texans is testing positive. 

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"It is a balance every day, almost every hour right now for our hospitals," said Carrie Kroll with the Texas Hospital Association.

Hospitals in North Texas have nearly 2,700 COVID patients. 

Dallas County has reported an average of about 1,500 positive tests a day over the last week.

The latest surge is coming at a time when hundreds of hospital workers are also testing positive. 

Parkland Hospital says the numbers fluctuate daily from a couple of hundred employees out to more than 500 some days. 

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Dr. Joseph Chang is the chief medical officer of Parkland.

"We have several hundred out right now. That's a staggeringly high number, especially given the context that we were already short a few hundred staff from optimum," he said.

At John Peters Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, they currently have about 240 employees out with COVID. 

The DFW Hospital Council says on average, our 19-county region has 10-15% percent of workers out with COVID. 

"Smaller hospitals have a harder time covering those individuals when they're out. It's not any easier for larger hospitals. They just have other places to pull from," Kroll said. "You have a situation where in addition to hospitalization rates kind of going at a skyrocket level really quickly, you have also hospitals not having the same amount of workforce able to treat patients because they are also staff is also getting sick."

Kroll says the state remains committed to providing extra staff for hotspots. 

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Recently, President Joe Biden announced federal resources will be sent to hard-hit areas. As of now, there is no timeline on when that help will arrive. 

"We have been contacted by the federal government, and we are. We have told them that we are welcoming them with open arms as many as they can spare. So we'll see," Dr. Chang said. "That is not materialized yet, but certainly we are in discussions and communication."

There is some good news. 

Dr. Chang says while hospitalizations are going up, the patients are less sick. Right now out of about 200 patients, only seven are on a ventilator.

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