Breaking News
More () »

'People are truly suffering' | Healthcare workers feel the strain as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in North Carolina

Healthcare workers are feeling the strain of the surge as North Carolina hospitalizations hit a record-shattering 4,098 Wednesday.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Hospitalizations hit a new record of more than 4,000 people in North Carolina hospitals with COVID-19. It's the most since the start of the pandemic. 

The surge is putting a strain on staff as they get sick and are out of work. 

"People are truly suffering and suffering the mental and emotional aspects of this," said Dr. Ashish Khanna. He works in the ICU at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, "I know people who are opting out of being a healthcare worker in the ICU looking for another professional opportunity and moving away because they just can't deal with this anymore."

Jennifer Lyon is a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at Moses Cone Hospital. She said the staff and patients are feeling the strain as wait times are long. 

"Our waiting times in our waiting rooms are full and that just wreaks havoc on everybody’s mental health, everybody’s physical health as a team. I have some of the best coworkers that I could ask for. We are a family and you feel the loss when a coworker leaves because things can get kind of rough in our situation," Lyon said. 

Dr. Khanna said the virus has mutated over the last few years, but the suffering patients experience when hospitalized with COVID-19 hasn't changed.

"What we're seeing in ICUs here is a similar story to last year where we're still seeing patients come in and they are almost universally either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all," said Khanna. 

Khanna said some share their regrets, while others stand firm with their decision of not getting vaccinated. 

"Disturbingly I also get a fraction of people who will still continue to be non-believers and non-believers to the point of saying COVID is all made up and they would rather just die in the ICU and not get vaccinated," he said.

Lyon said she tries to talk with her patients about the advantages of getting vaccinated. 

"What I do tell my patients is the people that do get vaccinated tend to get better," she said, "There seems to be misinformation about what a vaccine does and the vaccine itself is not going to keep you from getting the virus. You can still very much get COVID but the hope is that by getting the vaccine is that you’ll be covered when you do and we won't have to see you in an ICU situation or even in an inpatient situation right now."

Seventy-eight percent of patients in Cone Health hospitals are unvaccinated.

That number is 75 percent for Novant Health.