'I just wish other people would do their part': Nurses worry as hospitals report staffing shortages

Posted at 6:30 AM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 06:30:04-05

CLEVELAND — As of Monday, more than 2,500 Ohioans are hospitalized because of COVID-19. Nearly 175 of those patients went to a hospital in the last 24 hours.

Ohio Governor Mike Dewine and his team are telling Ohioans, that if we don’t start taking the virus seriously and following safety guidelines, soon, there will be a severe strain on caregivers.

There are enough beds, PPE and ventilators throughout Ohio, but the main concern is nurses and doctors getting the virus out in the community.

Sedaekon Butler is a travel nurse from Cleveland. She has been traveling to different hospitals that are facing shortages for the last 3 years, and since COVID, she has been dispatched to COVID units in North Carolina and Texas.

“Overall, it’s pretty terrifying. You’re thinking about taking care of someone, but also in fear for your life because you don’t want to contract the virus,” she said.

She said when the virus first hit, doctors and nurses were just trying to stay afloat.

“It’s just like keep them alive and hope for the best, that was it. It was very hopeless,” said Butler.

A day-to-day struggle.

“The patient gets really sick, really quick. So it goes to you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine, until you’re not fine and then you’re really, really not fine and this could be the end,” she said.

But now, as caregivers have a better understanding of how to treat each patient, she said she’s worried about people getting COVID fatigue, letting their guard down and not wearing masks or social distancing.

“I just wish other people would do their part.”

Right now, 300 Cleveland Clinic workers are not reporting to work because they either have COVID-19 or are quarantining. State health officials said they are not picking up the virus in the hospital setting, but rather out in the community.

“I want to emphasize that if we don't see a shift in the way things are going, meaning if we don't control the spread of the virus in our case numbers, we won't be able to continue caring for the acutely ill without postponing important but less urgent care,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff the incoming chief medical officer with the Ohio Department of Health.

Other health officials echoed his sentiment.

“Now is the time to wear a mask and social distance, if not to protect your family and your friends and your community, help protect the caregivers,” said Dr. Robert Wyllie with the Cleveland Clinic.

Butler said she is taking precautions she needs to make sure she can continue to care for her patients but asks that everyone else does the same.

“We just have to be patient. As a culture we want everything to be instantaneous and we are tired of being locked away, but if the nurses become sick then who is going to take care of the sick?”

RELATED: Northeast Ohio healthcare workers getting COVID from community spread, Cleveland Clinic doctor says