FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) – Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals throughout the U.S. are at their highest capacity in just a year as three respiratory illnesses are surging.
A tripledemic of COVID-19, RSV and influenza is putting a strain on health care workers. The illnesses are much different than before because patients are filling up hospitals, putting them at capacity and stretching medical staff.
John Stewart, registered nurse and administrator for emergent services at Hurley Medical Center, said the trifecta of illness has hit the facility hard.
“It’s easy to say that we’re over 80% capacity, but we’re drawing from some of the experiences that we gathered during the pandemic to support this,” Stewart said.
Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, an ear, nose and throat practitioner in Flint, said that creates a spiral effect for both the patients and health care workers.
“Now three different things are filling up the emergency rooms, causing people to have to wait. The frustrations of patients that are being taken out on health care workers. That really wears on people,” said Mukkamala. “We’ve seen a lot of people that said, ‘I’m done,’ retire early or change jobs and go somewhere else. So, hospital staff are really struggling with this.”
The tripledemic not only causes a scarcity in hospital beds, but raises frustration levels in health care workers.
“Our immune system hasn’t been challenged in the last couple of years because we’ve been distanced,” Mukkamala said. “And now it’s being challenged in combination with a bug that’s tougher than usual.”
As the holiday season approaches, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated and to avoid spreading infection to others by wearing masks.