How many health care professionals does it take to treat one COVID patient?

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 12:26 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - For the last several weeks, our hospital systems are at or above capacity as health workers continue treating COVID patients and it’s putting a strain on the level of care patients receive.

Tony Garrett is a COVID survivor. He was in the hospital for more than 100 days battling COVID-19, said there were nearly a dozen nurses, doctors and specialist treating him every day and that was for just one person.

“I think people don’t understand the supportive nature of this virus and how much is required. How much manpower is required for one COVID patient that’s critically ill,” said Garrett.

He and his father became severely sick with COVID in August of last year. He spent 103 days in the hospital fighting for his life and has since made a full recovery. Sadly, his father did not survive the virus, but Garrett said he owes his life to a team of experts who kept him alive.

“I mean…from needing a nephrologist, to an EMT, to a pulmonologist, to a doctor of internal medicine, to a respiratory therapist, nurse, nurses’ aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists, a case worker. All of that for one person,” Garrett said.

“So, it’s not just two people who are getting beat up because of COVID, it’s a team of 10 that can rotate every eight hours.”

Dr. George Crawford, with Regional Medical Center, says health care professionals are working long hours to keep up with demand caused by COVID and resources are stretched thin.

“This is an influx that the medical community did not anticipate three, four, five years ago when we were hiring people, when we were arranging these teams,” Dr. Crawford said.

“It’s definitely been a difficult time.”

Lucy Phillips is a registered nurse and said those teams must dress and redress for each patient they see, and with shifts stretching 10 hours or more that can be exhausting.

“You have to put gloves on, a gown, hair covering, your N95 mask, which can take up to five minutes to really get everything on appropriately,” Phillips said.

And the emotional toll is never ending.

“I’ve sat outside as I got everything set up for them and listened to their conversations with their families and it’s heart wrenching because you know some of them are not going to make it out of here,” Phillips continued.

So, what’s the solution? They unanimously say vaccination.

Health experts said while breakthrough cases do occur, far more unvaccinated people are landing in the hospital with severe cases of COVID.

Garrett said he wishes the shot had been available for his father last summer, saying he believes he’d still be alive if he could have been vaccinated.

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