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Nebraska healthcare leaders discuss impacts of COVID-19 on hospitals

Hospitals and healthcare workers are still facing challenges as a result of the pandemic.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 12:33 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2022 at 3:06 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Although Nebraska has seen a drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, hospitals and healthcare workers are still facing challenges as a result of the pandemic.

The statewide positivity rate is at 10.7% while the number of hospitalizations is down to 496 people, which are pretty close to where we were at two months ago.

Even though most hospitalizations are down and beds are open, it’s staffing issues that are still straining hospital employees across the state.

“Last month we had five COVID inpatients, and those patients typically are cared for one-on-one,” Jim Ulrich, CEO of York General said. “We don’t have any COVID inpatients today, but we’re still within one or two beds of pressing our staff availability that we can take on.”

Staffing shortages are taking a toll on the mental health of nurses.

“What keeps me up at night is worrying about my staff’s mental health,” Mike Hansen, President and CEO of Columbus Community Hospital said. “We had a nurse shortage prior to the pandemic, and the pandemic has just exacerbated it in a number of ways. Getting nurses in the profession will be a challenge for the foreseeable future.”

The Hospital Decompression Program, which was passed on January 25th by the Department of Health and Human Services, has allowed smaller hospitals to transfer patients who no longer require acute care, but still require skilled nursing care. A total of 78-98 new hospital beds will be available beginning this week in Lincoln, Omaha, and Grand Island.

February 28th - March 4th is Healthcare Worker Appreciation Week in Nebraska and the public is encouraged to display a white ribbon on their car or yard, and to wear white and post on social media on March 4th to show their support for all healthcare workers.

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