When COVID Cases Outnumber Doctors and Nurses

and what that means for your family and loved ones

Despite many barriers to insurance and getting healthcare, most of the time, we expect there to be a spot for us or our loved ones at a hospital if we need it. For everything from sickness, broken bones, car accidents or necessary surgeries, we have a basic assumption that when it is our family, there will be a spot to take them. But if the hospital is full, there is nowhere for these people to be treated.

In some parts of the United States, that is already happening.

In other places it will happen soon.

A quick glance at the headlines confirms the grim reality that health care workers are trying to get through the heads of the portion of the population that are still not taking this pandemic seriously.

You might ask- why can’t we just build field hospitals?

The talk of ICU beds makes people think that this is about literal, physical beds.

No.

ICU beds come with a certain level of equipment and monitoring systems that are essential to caring for patients who need that level of care. But that isn’t all that makes ICU beds more than just places for patients.

In theory, you could set up field hospitals for patients, and equip them to at least the standard of the minimum needs of an ICU, but you would still have a problem.

Both doctors and nurses completed years of study to get to the place they are now to be able to practice in hospitals and in intensive care units.

To find a doctor or a nurse with years of experience as well is even harder.

They are not a limitless resource.

When a hospital is out of ICU beds, it also means it is out of staff to care for people in ICU beds.

This pandemic has been going on since March. These front line workers have been battling COVID cases for almost a year.

Part of being a front line worker, is just that, they are on the front line of the battle, and at high risk to get hurt as well.

Already, in the US, 1,200 healthcare employees have died to COVID-19.

That is over a thousand less people than we had before who could possibly care for the people getting sick now.

These are people who have seen countless families lose their loved ones, have lost their coworkers, and keep coming in. When they drive home, they see parties, restaurants and people ignoring the mask mandates/recommendations.

They are thinking about quitting. Many already have.

It doesn’t add up to a good situation.

Start with an already limited quantity of health care workers.

Subtract from that those who have died, those who have quit, and those who are unable to work for other reasons.

Then to those who are left, take the normal amount of injuries and needs, and add in a never ending flow of COVID-19 patients who will die without a team working around the clock to save them.

That is why there aren’t enough ICU beds.

Plus, the COVID patients take beds for a long time, because even those who make it don’t recover overnight.

What does that mean for my family?

It means that first, you should do everything within your personal capacity to not add another COVID case to their load. Wear a mask, distance, and postpone large gatherings until the future when it is once again safe.

Especially since the longer this goes on, the greater the chance that it will be you or your family that has to wait in the hall, and not get the care needed, decreasing your survival chances.

But it also means that you might not have a place to be cared for if you are in a car accident or be able to have the surgery you might learn that you needed this year.

So you say you care about doctors and nurses.

At the start of this whole crazy year, we clapped for health care workers, we held up signs, they were featured in commercials and the whole whole made a show that we cared about them.

We started strong. We stayed home.

Every commercial and celebrity drove home the point.

Some countries controlled it completely, and the US at least got the cases going in the right direction.

As long as we kept caring, the hospitals stayed at a capacity that was able to be managed.

There were less trauma accidents because people were staying home, not in dangerous jobs or car accidents, and there were less coronavirus cases because people were trying their best to avoid it.

Then we got tired. People needed money, so everyone went back to work (as Congress wasn’t able to get more money for those in need), and besides, it was time to see everyone again.

Those honored front line workers? Still working, but now begging for help.

They are now using any platform they have to try to convince others to help them, get on their team, and give them even a slim chance to save as many as possible.

Hear them. Listen. Save lives.

Stay home.

I am a teacher, with two kids, recently diagnosed with Lupus, and possibly other auto-immune conditions, living life to the fullest, while managing symptoms.

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