AUSTIN, Texas — COVID-19 cases are increasing due to the delta variant and staffing issues are causing limited ICU beds in hospitals across the state. As hospitals continue to see an increase in COVID-19 patients, they may soon have to turn some away.
Travis County officially moving to Stage 5 is a direct reflection on the shortage of nurses in Texas.
“The number of beds available are directly dependent on the number of people you have to care for those people in those beds,” Holly Jeffreys, a member of the Texas Nurse Practitioners said. “The reality for nurses and what they're facing is just catastrophic numbers with regards to patients with COVID.”
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, as of August 4, there are 471 ICU beds left across the state. In Austin’s 11 surrounding counties that number is 21, for an estimated almost 2.4 million people.
“I am on the verge of tears. I'm on the verge of, you know, anger,” Ana Drummond, a pediatric nurse in Central Texas said. “There's too many patients, not enough nurses. And that's a real thing that's happening, if you're a person that needs care in a hospital. It’s really scary that there's not enough staff.”
Carrie Kroll, the director of public health for the Texas Hospital Association says nurses are burnt out.
“They went through the first two spikes, and it just wore them out,” Kroll said. “They're tired. They've left the profession entirely,” Kroll said. “Unfortunately, what we'll see in the coming days is hospitals surging as best they can with what staff they have.”
“I see anxiety everywhere,” Drummon said. “I see anxiety in my patients. I see anxiety in their families. I see anxiety in my co-workers.”
Drummond continues to keep up as best she can by remembering why she became a nurse.
“My patients, of course,” Drummon said. “My co-workers who have been incredibly supportive through all of this. We're all barely hanging in there together.”
She’s asking people in the community to do their part so she can do hers.
“Stay home if you can,” Drummon said. “Social distance. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. Get vaccinated.”