As COVID-19 hospitalizations tick up again, nurses say they are starting to become nervous that they could be moving toward a time when caregiver burnout was at the top of mind.
“We try to tell our staff, look, you guys are heroes then, and you're going to be heroes now. And we’ve gotten through this. It was tough, and we know more today than we knew yesterday,” said Jennifer Jackson, the chief nursing officer at Mercy Hospital.
Mercy is one of the 14 Southwestern Ohio hospitals where records show COVID-19 patient load is increasing. Across the 14 systems, case load jumped from 40 COVID-19 patients two weeks ago to nearly 120 this week.
“There are long hours again, and there’s N95 masks and all of their PPE. They’re becoming family again to loved ones who can’t have their loved ones sitting there holding their hand. They’re experiencing those last breaths again with individuals who, you know, lose their battle to COVID,” said Jackson.
Hamilton County health commissioner Greg Kesterman said most patients are unvaccinated, and hospitals are seeing more patients in their 40s and 50s.
“Hospital systems are working as a team,” said Kesterman. “If one hospital system becomes overwhelmed, they are prepared to ship patients to another system. In addition, they have backup beds that are able to be opened up.”
WCPO 9News covers eight Ohio Counties: Adams, Butler, Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren. Out of those, the Ohio Department of Health shows most have vaccinated less than 50 percent of residents. Warren is the only county that has vaccinated more than 50 percent with 50.57 percent completed. Adams County has the lowest number, with 24.72 percent fully vaccinated.
“It’s story after story of patients who come in who are like, ‘I was going to get a vaccine next week,’ or, ‘I didn’t think it would affect me.’ And now, they’re just really sick,” said Jackson.
In Sharonville, a team of nurses waited Wednesday with barely any patients at a county vaccination pop-up site.
“It's not uncommon that we might be at a mobile location and only see one vaccine,” said Meeka Owens, pod manager.
In the Greater Cincinnati region, the state lists the most cases in the City of Hamilton, followed by Loveland and Mason.
“They still need our community to say, ‘You're doing a great job. We got your back. We're going to keep wearing our masks and we’re going to get vaccinated,’” said Jackson.
Doctors expect hospitalization numbers to rise through August and peak in October in the Tri-State.