COVID crisis: California hospitals face dire shortage of health care workers as cases soar


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — California is using ICU capacity as a benchmark to issue restrictions during a major coronavirus surge. But the focus is less on beds now, and more on having enough healthcare workers to attend to patients.

Hospitals in the state are desperately searching for medical workers to meet the demand of incoming COVID patients — a number that continues to grow.

So far over 500 nurses, doctors and other medical staff have been contracted and deployed to California hospitals from other states.

California is now looking outside of the U.S. to help fill hospital staff, having reached out to places like Australia and Taiwan.

It’s not uncommon for hospitals to hire travel nurses in worse flu seasons, and California hospitals need to comply with strict nurse to patient ratios: The state requires one nurse for every two patients in Intensive Care Units. Also, one nurse for every four patients in emergency rooms.

These requirements have been waived during the pandemic, however.

These healthcare workers are treating some of the most severe cases, many have been down in los Angeles where case and death rates have exploded more drastically.

On Monday, more than 17,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide — more than double the previous peak reached in July.

More than 3,600 of those patients were in intensive care. And if people don’t hunker down for the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, the situation could get even worse.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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