Northeast Ohio nurses give firsthand perspective on pandemic surge

Posted at 4:50 PM, Dec 17, 2021

CLEVELAND — With COVID-19 cases spiking and hospitalizations along with them, hospitals and healthcare workers across Northeast Ohio are overwhelmed.

“We're doing the best we can. It's very tiring. It's very emotionally exhausting. But day by day, with a lot of teamwork, we're doing the best we can,” said Tracey Kaser, a critical care nurse at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

News 5 spoke with five nurses from Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth to get their perspectives about working on the front lines during this surge in the pandemic.

“Our day to day is extreme pressure, I mean, we have a lot of patients coming to the E.R. with symptoms of COVID,” said Quiana Howard, an emergency room nurse at University Hospitals.

The Ohio Department of Health reports 4,784 people are currently in the hospital with COVID-19. 1,185 of those patients are in the ICU. They’re levels Ohio hasn't seen since last year around this time.

“It is pretty scary seeing the amount of people that come in. I think one thing that we're seeing is the vaccinated versus unvaccinated. Ninety percent to 95% of cases we’re seeing are unvaccinated people,” said Anthony Carr, an emergency room nurse at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Nurses said this surge is taking a huge toll on them and their colleagues.

“It's hard because we have to remember this started almost two years ago, so now we're going to two years of having this emotional toll, this physical toll where everybody's tired, everybody's, you know, emotionally overloaded,” said Laura Schmidt, an emergency room manager at MetroHealth Medical Center.

So while they said each of their departments are working things out the best they can, they need help so they can continue to help others. All of the nurses News 5 spoke with said they would welcome help from the National Guard now that Gov. Mike DeWine has mobilized them to assist at hospitals across the state.

RELATED: Gov. DeWine orders Ohio National Guard to understaffed hospitals with rising COVID cases

“I have to be honest, that will be very helpful not only for patients, but for staff members. I mean, just to have support and people there to share in the responsibility and the commitment of taking care of patients,” said Howard.

But even beyond the national guard, they said they need the community to do its part as well.

“I want people to know that this is still very real. It's still happening. We're still dealing with it. We are all doing the best that we can, but it's not going away any time soon and we really need to take action to make that happen,” said Bridget Gill, the manager of community and employee health at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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